In May of 2003, Grafton voters approved the purchase of the 47-acre Hennessey property for $1.1 million from Robert N. Hennessy. This parcel is bounded by the Massachusetts Turnpike on the North, Old Westboro Road on the West, and Estabrook Road (classified as a 'scenic road') on the South. It is currently a series of open farm meadows enclosed by old New England stone walls and stands of emerging growth vegetation (small caliper trees and moderately sized shrubs) located around the meadow's perimeter.

A stream traverses the property, beginning at the Northeastern corner at a large wetland area, flowing in an approximately southwesterly direction through the center of the parcel. Some rock outcrops are also visible in several meadows in the Western portion of the site.

2010 Annual Report from the
Grafton Community Garden
Committee of the Grafton Garden Club

On Monday, December 7, 2009 at 7:33pm, the first meeting of a group of twelve Grafton residents who were interested, for their own separate reasons, in exploring the possibility of having an area in town where residents without their own space could garden. One of the first things the group did (after the all important introductions) was to determine a philosophy for the group: this should be a social experience, it should be educational, it should satisfy a need for people without space, and it should help ensure food security. The groups conducted deep discussion on all topics. You try to get 12 people to all agree on the same things. Should the garden be organic only? What towns have successful community gardens that we can steal the best of their ideas? And the most important decision was Where Would We Have a Community Garden? We had 5 top sites that all had pros and cons. Some members took their pet locations and did some research and came back to the group 4 weeks later and presented why their location was the one we all should agree on. The 4 properties were the David White property near the Community Harvest Barn, the Pell Farms Conservation Area, Potter Hill, the Webber area near the North Grafton Elementary School, and Hennessey II on Estabrook near Old Westboro Road. The group picked Hennessey II and the work began. The To Do list was just getting started. The first thing we needed to do was work up some draft documentation to present to the Selectmen, including a member agreement, general rules, and a liability form. We needed to decide how the group would operate. Would we be part of the town or a separate entity? There wasn’t time to become a non-profit organization of our own, and we did not feel confident enough yet to know if the group would be able to make it all happen.

In February, the group again got together to see where we were, and if we had made any progress on the action items from the January meeting. Some of the group had managed to visit the chosen property. The neighbor, Lee Knowlton was there and he promised to plow the area once the ground could be worked, saving the group the expense and the time of clearing the intended garden area by hand. Lee also had some interesting stories to tell about he property and he told the group that he was glad it would was going to be used again and they he would be happy to help us any way he could. Before the February meeting ended, the group created sub-committees to handle the growing number of items on the To Do lists. There now were 4 separate committees for the group. The Plot Assignment and Garden Management sub-committee is responsible for making sure the plots are ready to be used and to handle any conflicts that arise. The Documents sub-committee created the Rules & Member agreement, the liability forms, the application form and any other documents that the gardeners or potential gardeners will see. The Budget and Fundraising sub-committee is responsible for creating a budget and then finding the money or donated materials to make it all happen. The Outreach and Publicity sub-committee is responsible for getting press coverage for all the wonderful things going on at the Garden. It was at this meeting in February that group decided that it would be better if the town was not in control of the money coming in to the Community Garden. It was our general understanding that the Selectmen would prefer if we were a non-town group, too. The group decided to approach the Grafton Garden Club (OK, it wasn’t a long trip). The Secretary of the group talked to the Treasurer of the Grafton Garden Club (and that was a sight to see) and they both brought the idea to the Executive Board where it was approved to bring it to the membership at the next meeting. And so the Grafton Community Garden committee, a part of the Grafton Garden Club was born. In March, things really picked up. Like we had been sitting on our hands before that! The Grafton Garden Club created a separate savings account for the Grafton Community Garden that works in the same autonomous way that the Grafton Community Day fund does. Money donated to the Community Garden is placed into the fund and the money is used for Community Garden expenses only. The general fund from the Grafton Garden Club made an initial deposit of $50 to get the fund started. The group met and finalized all the documents; they met with the Selectmen and received permission to have approximately 20 plots on the town-owned property known as Hennessey II.

On Saturday and Sunday, March 20 and 21, 2010, the crew went to Hennessey II and started the transformation from being known as the Hennessey II property to being known as the Grafton Community Garden. The crew chopped, pulled, raked, cleared, and marveled and how it would be next to impossible to take this overgrown area and turn it into a usable garden space in 4 weeks. The crew staked off the corners that became the 100 by 55 foot parking area. They staked out an area for the twenty 20 by 20 foot plots allowing for rows between the plots. Then Lee showed up again and suggested we might want the area a little farther from the road, where the ground was more level and where the crops were grown before. So it was pull up the stakes and try again. And the hunt for a well began.

Amazingly, the garden was 90% ready for the Grand Opening on May 1. The only major parts missing were the water and the electric fence. The decision was made that the Community Garden could be opened without either of those, and the committee would continue to work to finalizing both issues. Today, there is a water buffalo, and the search for a reliable water source is still on. And the electric fence, after some on and off discussions seems to be on and working at keeping the plants on one side of the fence and the animals on the other. There are 24 rented plots of the original 25 plots that were staked out. The Community Garden fund has enough money for the expenses encountered so far, and a cushion if we need to repair the fence or if we want to start to look for water.

The area once known as Hennessey II is now the Grafton Community Garden. The gardeners there are each doing something unique and yet the same. Most importantly, folks are having fun!

Respectfully submitted,
Deborah Graham,
Secretary of the Grafton Community Garden committee