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Written by Karla Noboa, Volunteer and Programs Coordinator

The Greenway’s ribbon of parks was conceptualized and installed by a range of landscape designers, resulting in distinct plant palettes, design elements and care needs in each major park area. We at the Conservancy often think of these major areas as  the North End, the Wharf District, Fort Point Channel, Dewey Square, and Chinatown.

Each area is managed differently and has its own specific needs, which prompted The Greenway to launch a Zone Garden program last year! Each Greenway Horticulturist is assigned a zone to work in for the season at the beginning of the year, as well as one or two volunteers to assist them weekly. Having staff work in one area on a weekly basis gives them the opportunity to create long-term strategies for managing their zones, and a regular crew of volunteers ensures that plenty of work can get done!

Now in its second year, The Greenway’s zone garden program has grown to accommodate eight regular volunteers who join us weekly, giving them an opportunity to delve deeply into their assigned area.

Mary Beth, one of Wharf District Zone Volunteers commented, “I have been part of the zone program for two years now. The program has given me a whole new appreciation for The Greenway and the care that goes into it. Especially meaningful have been the opportunities the program affords to learn from and about members of The Greenway team, and to interact with those who visit it.”

Chinatown zone volunteer Karen Bergstrand and Steph Almasi, Seasonal Horticulturist and Volunteer Programs Assistant, are joined in their zone by Nicole Semeraro, Seasonal Horticulturist and volunteer Bonnie Thrysellius.

Chinatown zone volunteer Karen Bergstrand and Steph Almasi, Seasonal Horticulturist and Volunteer Programs Assistant, are joined in their zone by Nicole Semeraro, Seasonal Horticulturist and volunteer Bonnie Thrysellius.

As the weeks go by, our Horticulture staff and volunteers have the opportunity to observe how dynamic the park is. With 400 free events, world class art, food trucks, and fountains, The Greenway is always busy! The Zone Garden program allows our Horticulture team to spend some dedicated time focusing on our fully organic lawns and gardens.

Our Horticulture staff had a few words to share about their experiences in the Zone Garden program:

I always look forward to Monday morning because I know I’ve got great help coming! Having someone like Karen to work through the challenges of urban gardening with me makes it so enjoyable. We both love plants and pass most mornings comparing favorites or new introductions. Sharing a love of gardening with our zone volunteers is the most rewarding part. The Greenway is so fortunate to have such passionate, experienced volunteers come to assist us complete tasks that would otherwise seem daunting!” – Steph Almasi, Seasonal Horticulturist and Volunteer Program Assistant

“Zone days allow us to focus on tasks we have been keeping track of with people who are just as passionate about this work as we are. Having volunteers brings in extra hands and also teaches us different perspectives – from their experience to outside views on the parks. I love keeping track of my zone and maintaining this specific space for set days in the week. I have a different eye for how I view these spaces and am always eager to improve it in any way that I can.” – Nicole Semeraro, Seasonal Horticulturist

“The Wharf Zone is unique on The Greenway in that all of the plants are native to the New England area. This makes working in the zone really enjoyable as visitors are often delighted to learn that a favorite tree or flower can be found locally in the wild. Cathy and Mary Beth, the two volunteers I work with, are really knowledgeable as they grow some of the same plants in their own backyards!” – Dylan Barrett-Smith, Seasonal Horticulturist

North End zone volunteers Nancy Totton and Bonnie Thrysellius.

North End zone volunteers Nancy Totton and Bonnie Thrysellius.

“Bonnie and I have been working together in the North End zone for the last two seasons. She’s been volunteering with us as part of our individual volunteer program for as long as I’ve worked here – she also volunteers in our Demo Garden and at our regular group events, so she knows the park, especially our zone, like the back of her hand! Bonnie is incredibly knowledgeable on all things horticulture, and on top of her dedication and passion for The Greenway, she works for a landscape designer and is also the section coordinator at the Fenway Victory Gardens where she has an amazing garden plot! Our zone program wouldn’t be possible without our regular volunteers stepping up!” – Tori Hiney, Organic Plant Health Care Horticulturist

If you are ever in the park on a Monday or Tuesday morning, you’re sure to come across our Zone Garden staff and volunteers enjoying their day on The Greenway! To learn more about how you can get involved with The Greenway or our Zone Garden program, you can visit our website or reach out to Karla Noboa, Volunteer and Programs Coordinator, at volunteer@rosekennedygreenway.org.