Boston Nature Center


Join Us at: 500 Walk Hill St. Mattapan, MA 02126

Our Flagship Site at Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center (BNC) in Mattapan just completed its first year of growing. This publicly accessible site is adjacent to the oldest, largest, and most diverse community garden in Boston. Since breaking ground in April 2014, more than 150 volunteers have participated in site preparation, planting, and permaculture workshops that yielded over two hundred pounds of food, picked by Audubon campers and elementary school children.

In partnership with the Boston Nature Center, we are building a food forest in stages, focusing on a few centerpiece projects each year that offer valuable educational demonstration opportunities. We have spent this past growing season enriching the health of the soil through sheet mulching and the planting of nitrogen-fixing plants. We have also completed several Year 1 projects, including:

Herb Spiral. We dismantled old brush piles and used the brush to construct an herb spiral. A herb spiral allows you to place plants in the conditions they need for appropriate amounts of sun and water.


Left: May 2014, planting herbs donated by Allandale Farm Right: July 2014, herbs grew well in two months with very little watering


Hugelkultur Raised Bed. Hugelkultur is a raised bed technique in which you bury old tree trunks and branches under compost. The tree waste acts like a sponge, making sure the vegetables planted on top get required moisture. Find out how much we grew in this one horse-shaped hugelkultur bed on our blog!


Left: May 2014, constructing the hugelkultur bed Right: July 2014, vegetables (donated by Brookwood Farms) grew well in the hugel-bed without watering for weeks


Bee-Friendly Garden and Compost Bin. We constructed a stall out of repurposed wooden pallets and rope to keep our compost pile tidy. Jennifer Hauf of Allandale Farm led a workshop about medicinal and bee-friendly herbs. We planted a raised hugelkultur bed with arnica, tansy, mullein, and others.


Left: August 2014, volunteers planting herbs in the freshly built hugelkulture bed Right: July 2014, volunteers standing around their finished compost bin


Tree Planting. After a summer of preparing the land, we finally began the base of the food forest and planted edible trees in the ground, including Yates Persimmon, Filberts and Paw paws.

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Left: September 2014, Father and son dig a hole to plant a tree in. Center: Pam Kristan, wild food enthusiast, demonstrates how to process acorns into flour Right: Dan Schenk shows the proper way to plant a tree in the ground. (All 3 photographs © Cara Brostrom)


Multi-year design plans include:

– a gathering hub under a fruit arbor

– an herbal garden

– a greenhouse with water catchment

– a traditional annual garden

– beehives (in partnership with Boston Beekeepers)

– mulched pathways inter-planted with fruit and nuts

– edible fruit-bearing bushes, shrubs, and vines

– useful ground covers like herbs and plants used as dyes

– existing woodland area offers habitat for wild life and possible workshop space, inclusive of mushroom logs and other shade-tolerant edibles