Community blooms with thanks: Neighborhood buys land that hosts garden

WORCESTER — “Where there is a will there is a way” had been the rallying cry of students and community organizers who last year vowed to save a popular community garden on Richards Street, after the property on which the garden sits went up for sale.

Once a trash heap, the Richards Street Garden, filled with a variety of vegetables and flowers and tended by ministers, former prisoners, disabled adults, students and area residents, had become a patch of pride in the community.

The property, about 12,400 square feet and owned by Richards Street 21 Realty Trust, however, went up for sale, triggering an effort by community members to save the garden.

After a fund-raising effort that garnered $15,000 and a generous donation of $13,000 from Dismas House, a residential halfway house for former prisoners, community organizers announced Tuesday that they had purchased the property.

Dave McMahon, co-executive director of Dismas ! House, said the purchase of the property was assisted by real estate agent Mark Toomy of RE/MAX, who donated half his commission to the purchase of the property.

“It is a win-win story for everyone involved,” said Mr. McMahon, who had led a neighborhood effort to reclaim the lot, when it was left vacant after the two three-deckers on the site were destroyed by fire and demolished in the early 1990s.

The purchase of the property also means spirits will be higher on April 24 when Dismas House and the Goddard School of Science and Technology will receive the Secretary Award for Excellence in Environmental Education because of their work with the garden, Mr. McMahon said.