Let me know if I missed any tables – I thought we bought more than these.
From Neal Sanders, co-chair of the Medfield Community Gardens, from his post on his blog, The Principal Undergardener at
Though I was not present at the meeting, apparently sometime toward the end of March, Medfield’s Covid-19 Response Committee discussed which additional community activities (in addition to schools, libraries, restaurants, etc.) could or should be discontinued in order to discourage unnecessary public gatherings.
|A returning gardener
carries in her plot’s
‘mascot’ – a terra cotta
The Community Garden was one of the ‘group activities’ up for consideration.
I would not have known this except a town employee forwarded a copy of an internal email noting the Community Garden had been spared, and permitted to go forward on schedule. A few days later, in one of my periodic ‘updates’ to the 75 families who have plots in the garden, I mentioned the decision in passing.
The response from gardeners was swift and vocal. The most memorable one came from a wonderful lady whom I think of as giving the garden a certain ‘classiness’. She is always in a good mood; she maintains a glorious garden; and she dresses better than any gardener I have ever met. Her response was as follows:
|Betty dispenses gardening advice from
a socially responsible distance
“So help me God, if they were to close the garden I would have a HUGE problem with that. The garden is my ONLY solace from home- schooling these animals, and my escape from the “office”.
The message concluded with a number of emojis, the exact translation of them I could not ascertain, but which appeared to threaten to visit some ancient Egyptian curse upon anyone who dared to mess with the status quo.
Betty and I have spent multiple hours the past few days at the Community Garden. Betty answers questions (from a CDC-acceptable distance) about what it is safe to plant. I introduce myself to the new gardeners (signup is via email) and explain why we recommend burying the bottom six inches of fences.
|It’s too soon to plan anything but the
hardiest of crops, but everyone is
What we have received from gardeners is universal thanks. Back in January and February, I was having trouble getting people to sign up for plots. After the ‘shelter in place’ orders went out, demand exploded. Not only were all plots filled; I had a wait list with eight names on it. Everyone, it seems, is in need of some garden therapy.
A group of volunteers always stakes the garden at the end of March and we ask gardeners to have a fence up by the first weekend in May; a very reasonable four or five weeks to accomplish a task that provides ‘proof of gardening.’ Yet, in a ‘normal’ year, I have to don my Ogre costume to get people to meet the deadline. This year, the first half dozen fences were in place the day after I put out a memo announcing that the garden was open. Today (April 12) I counted just nine plots out of 70 that are not fenced, with the deadline still three weeks away.
|Everyone is working on fences|
Granted, people have far more time on their hands in the spring of 2020 than in previous years, but there is also a palpable sense of pleasure on the faces of everyone I see. Moreover, there is more courtesy. For example, every year, I grit my teeth as I find many of the three-foot walkways between plots have been prepared just half the width; gardeners figured they were responsible for only ‘their’ half of the pathway. This year, whoever does the path puts down cardboard or paper plus bark mulch for the full 36 inches. Another example: we discourage gardeners who share a full plot (dividing each 20-foot-by-30-foot space into two 15-foot-by-20-foot ones) from dividing the plots with an internal fence (it wastes space and promotes weeds). Last year, perhaps four of the 15 gardens bore just a length of string or row of flowers to ‘suggest’ a demarcation. This year, I’ve seen just three plots with interior fences.
|Four plots are prepared|
Most of all, I’ve seen gardeners luxuriating in having a legitimate and ‘responsible’ reason to be outdoors. There were 15 cars at the garden this afternoon. A few had back ends bulging with fencing or stakes, but most people were there just to find something to do in their plots. They were building raised beds, marking out rows, and creating obelisks on which peas will grow this summer. Betty warned everyone soil temperatures are still in the 40’s, meaning it is too early to plant anything except the hardiest of ‘cool weather’ vegetables (spinach, onions). Yet, people were hoeing or on their hands and knees as if a heat wave was expected, rather than the two days of cold rain forecast for early this coming week.
|This is the earliest we’ve been busy.
Usually, early April is very quiet.
Had the garden been ‘disallowed’ because of coronavirus concerns, I could have made all the valid arguments in favor of reversing the decision (chief among them that opportunistic weeds would have swallowed the garden by the end of May), but the likelihood I would have prevailed was slim. As a nation, we are trying to flatten the curve of a pandemic.
But, for 75 Medfield families, we are providing the best kind of therapy. We’re offering hope. I suspect the bins we put out to aid the town’s Food Cupboard will overflow this season. I have a feeling disagreements will be settled amicably and (fingers crossed) vines may even stay inside fences come August.
I predict people will wave greetings to one another from their respective plots until it is once again safe to offer a hug. In short, I think it’s going to be a great season for the Community Garden.
Dear Michael, Gus, Osler and Kristine.
By Tod Dimmick
The pandemic has affected every community event this spring, including the annual New Life 5k Trail Run, an event that raises more than 20% of the New Life Furniture Bank’s budget. This Massachusetts charity serves nearly 700 hundred households every year, including individuals, families, single mothers, seniors and veterans, as they come out of homelessness. New Life collects high-quality gently-used furniture and household essentials that are then made available at no cost to individuals and families in need.
Faced with the challenge of having to cancel its annual 5k Trail Run, New Life sought creative and safe ways to hold their event, which raises funds that are critical to New Life’s ability to serve its clients. “The economic impact of COVID-19 is hitting our clients hard,” said Rich Purnell, Executive Director of New Life. He added that, “in the coming months, we anticipate a surge in requests as many families will be displaced from their homes.”
After careful thought, the trail run organizing committee announced a new “virtual 5k.” Runners and walkers register the same way they would for a conventional run, at www.newlifefb.org/virtual5k, where they can also create or join a team. Participants create their own 5k route, or use fitness apps like MapMyRun and Strava. Teams or individuals may even choose to row 5k on erg machines, or to bike. Entrants complete their personal 5k anytime between April 13 and May 10, and runners and walkers log their times on Racewire. On May 11, results will be posted and awards will be given in traditional categories, as well as in new, creative categories like most creative course.
Ron Yates, co-founder of the New Life Furniture Bank, said “we recognize that this is a totally new way to do something like this, and that is part of the fun. The Virtual 5k could bring even more people to the event because it is so easy to participate from anywhere, at any time. A team could be made up of family members, high school or college cross country teams looking for fitness and competition, an office group, you name it!”
The organizers also believe that the event offers an important opportunity for supporters who, especially in these challenging times, seek ways to do something positive and proactive while still being safe. “Folks joining the Virtual 5k not only support the New Life mission, they also are a welcome part of a community doing something that matters,” said Yates. “That’s especially important right now. And, running in the virtual 5k is a healthy thing to do. Everyone wins.”
Carmen Luisi of Holliston was the top female runner in the 2019 Trail Run (at age 13!), and she’s looking forward to the Virtual 5k this time around. “This is a very important cause, even greater now because people are struggling financially with the current pandemic,” she said.
Dan Haley, of Wayland, said he will run the Virtual 5k this year with his family. “My wife and 12 year old daughter and I had a wonderful time at last year’s 5K,” he said. “With everything in the near term shutting down, we were excited to hear that the New Life event is going virtual. One of our goals as a family as we navigate this strange, temporary reality is to continuously reach out to help others. Another is to keep getting exercise! So this checks both boxes, and gives us something worthwhile and active to do as a family.”
Mark Silva is a partner at the law firm Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, a sponsor of the event. He plans to run the race for the first time this year. “At a time when we’re all cooped up in our homes looking for something to do, looking for a way to help,” he said, “the 5K is giving us the opportunity to support an incredible organization… while being completely flexible on approach.” He added, “We plan on doing the 5K as a family this year – my wife will run and I am planning to bike the 5K with the kids.”
Kristin Chisum of Wayland will also run the Virtual 5k again with her son Luke. “We are thrilled that the race committee has come up with a way for the race to go on,” she said. “We live near the woods near Walden Pond so that’s where we’ll be.” She added: “I know that we will finish our 5K again this year with a feeling of gratitude – thankful for this group of people that have found a way to change people’s lives and have provided this 5K as a way for us to do our own little part.”
Participants in the New Life Virtual 5k will be encouraged to post photos of their participation with the hashtag #NewLifeStillRunning or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The registration page reads, in part, “It is our hope that sharing everyone’s fun photos and stories will bring joy to our New Life community and inspire other people far and wide to join the cause.” The organizers made it clear that they want more ideas from supporters about how to make the event fun and accessible to all. Ideas are coming in already, including filming clips of virtual bystanders cheering on the runners, and asking kids to create colorful yard signs.
The Medfield-based not-for-profit organization operates a Donation Center in Walpole, and serves the MetroWest and Greater Boston area.
From Neal Sanders –
Medfield Community Garden’s 2020 Registration Now Open
Is growing fresh vegetables something you would like to do? Have you tried to grow them in your back yard, but found you had too much shade? Do you live in a condo or apartment that has no space for gardens? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, the town of Medfield has a possible solution for you: the Medfield Community Garden.
Registration for spaces at the garden located on Plain Street off Route 27 is now open for the 2020 season, and ends when the last space is filled. Plots are available on a first-request basis and usually go quickly. A 300-square-foot plot provides ample room for a variety of different vegetables for most families. Approximately 12 plots are available for this season.
Both novice or experienced gardeners will find the Community Garden offers a great opportunity to learn and grow. The Garden is located on Conservation Commission land at the former Holmquist Farm on the south side of town. The site provides all-day sun, a scarce commodity for many Medfield residents.
Never had a vegetable garden, or feel you’d like a refresher course, or more information on growing in this area? Master Gardener and lecturer Betty Sanders will offer a freshly updated program on planning, planting and growing a garden in this area. The presentation will be held on Saturday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m. in the Medfield Library.
Gardeners provide their own seeds or seedlings, agree to fence their plot, and keep it weed-free throughout the season. The town provides a ready-to-plant site, wood chips for paths, and on-site-water. Because the Community garden is on town-owned Conservation land, gardeners are not allowed to use any herbicides or inorganic insecticides.
The Community Garden has now been on Plain Street for more than fifteen years. As a result of good gardening practices, the site is rich in organic nutrients, eliminating the need for almost all fertilizers and additives.
Residents can apply for a plot by contacting garden co-manager Neal Sanders at 508-359-9453 or email@example.com. Plots measuring 15 feet by 20 feet are $18, plus a one-time fee for joining the garden of $20.
From Mary McCarthy, Chair of the Conservation Commission –
This is for anyone who may have missed the other invites to complete the survey for whatever reason. Sorry if you have seen this already!
Friends and Neighbors,
If you attended the Town Wide Master Plan Public Participation Forum/Visioning on Sunday October 20, you know that the availability of Open Space is one of the most highly valued features of living in Medfield.
The Medfield Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) Committee, in collaboration with the Medfield Conservation Commission and Parks and Recreation, is putting the finishing touches on its updated OSRP. (A state approved OSRP is necessary for the town to be eligible to receive certain state funding.) A final step in this process is completion of a survey by residents on use of Open Space in town.
Please take a few minutes to complete the brief survey located here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KTS5NYY
Thank you for your participation!
Medfield Conservation Commission
Town Wide Master Planning Committee
From Tod Dimmick –
Dear Medfield Community,
The members of the New Life 5k Trail Run Committee would like to thank our community for their continuing support of the New Life 5k Trail Run, now in its 2nd year.
Saturday, May 11th, featured perfect weather, an enthusiastic turnout, and impressive fund-raising. The Trail Run took a winding route through and between the historic Medfield State Hospital buildings, across verdant fields, through the woods, down along the scenic Charles River and back up to the hospital grounds. The event raised funds and awareness for New Life Furniture Bank of MA. RaceWire (an online race registration and race timing company) provided participants with official times and finish-line photos. We give special thanks to our lead sponsors: Eastern Bank, New Balance, and Hometown Weekly; our Chip Timing Sponsors: Choate, Frank Webb Home, Rich & Susan Holbrook, and the Louis & Mary Kay Smith Family Foundation; as well as many other generous sponsors and in-kind donors. We greatly appreciate their support. Hard-working volunteers helped make the entire event run smoothly. Close to 300 runners and walkers participated, including individuals and teams. Music and outdoor games entertained all. We are very grateful to the Town of Medfield for the use of such an idyllic setting.
Carmen Luisi was the overall winner for the females and Andy Gardiner was the winner for the males. Visit newlifefb.org/5kphotos to view images of the race which capture the spirit of this fun event and its unique setting.
Executive Director Rich Purnell noted that these are exciting times at New Life. “We are growing quickly, and becoming an essential part of helping families transition out of homelessness or other forms of displacement,” he said. “The Trail Run was a great success. We raised funds to help us continue our mission and shared our organization with a wonderful group of people. We are so grateful to our sponsors and to those who participated.”
At New Life Furniture Bank of MA, we are proud to have served almost 1,900 households since our founding five years ago. Over this time period, we have provided not just 23,000 pieces of furniture, but helped to create a stable home for our clients and kept these items out of landfills. All of this has been made possible by the 800 volunteers who contributed 24,000 hours of their time and energy. Our Medfield-based not-for-profit organization operates a Donation Center in Walpole, and serves the MetroWest and Greater Boston area. New Life provides a meaningful option for local residents who are downsizing, renovating or disposing of a loved one’s property. Learn more about supporting, donating to, or volunteering for New Life Furniture Bank at newlifefb.org.
Thank you for being part of the New Life 5k Trail Run, an event we hope will become a growing community tradition. Stay tuned for updates next fall on the Third Annual 5k!
The New Life Trail Run Committee
The letter below that I received this week from the Norfolk Register of Deeds highlights for Medfield how, as a town, we all pay in to the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA) fund ($44,250 last year), but we get none of the monies or benefits back because we have not adopted the CPA.
The CPA is a self-imposed additional tax of from 1-3%, in exchange for which the town get state matching monies. CPA monies have to be spent on one of three areas:
My analysis has always been that where we already spend on those three things anyway, that by not adopting the CPA that we are merely forgoing the state matching monies.
The one time the CPA went to the annual town meeting (ATM), about ten years ago, it was defeated.
From Susan Maritan –
The 5k registration fee for the run goes up on Friday, so we want to let people know NOW is the time to get the Early Bird pricing.
Registration is open for New Life Furniture Bank’s “1st Annual New Life 5K Trail Run” on the grounds of the scenic Medfield State Hospital on Saturday, May 5th at 9 AM. The event is open to avid runners, joggers, or walkers looking for a beautiful spring stroll. This fun event is a great way to get out of the house and stretch your legs after a long winter while raising funds for New Life.
The event registration link is open at newlifefb.org. Register now because there are only about 50 free shirts left for the early registrants, and because the race fee, if paid on or before APRIL 5th, is $25; after April 5th it will be $30.
100% of the proceeds will benefit New Life Furniture Bank of MA.
For those runners interested in getting an official time, RaceWire is providing chip timing, and for those interested in fun and relaxation, there will be post-run refreshments and DJ music!
Medfield voted down the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA) at our annual town meeting (ATM), maybe 7-8 years ago, and as a result we have missed out on huge amounts of state CPA matching monies that we could have been using to pay for our open spaces, our historic preservation, or our affordable housing. I hope that we can agree to finally adopt the CPA soon, as every year we are leaving state matching monies on the table, despite that we pay in to the Norfolk Registry of Deeds recording surcharges that create the pool of monies used for the matching funds. Our payments are instead going to other towns in their matching monies.
In recent years, the matching monies have been so low from the registry surcharges that the legislature has annually supplemented the matching monies via an appropriation – almost half the cities and towns have adopted the CPA, so a lot of legislators are interested in keeping the CPA match high.
When we do adopt the CPA, since the whole reason to do so is to get the most state matching monies, we should adopt the highest level surcharge, which is 3%, because only those who agree to the 3% CPA surcharge get the most and largest state matches.
I have been asking for several years in a row to have an ATM warrant article to adopt the CPA, and I have been requested to not proceed by CPA proponents due to their not having educated the residents sufficiently. This year I think we just need to go ahead, and expect that residents will understand that the CPA will save us money in the long run. The Community Preservation Coalition website (www.communitypreservation.org) is excellent at explaining the CPA.
This article below about the CPA matching monies just issued was in my Massachusetts Department of Revenue newsletter this week –
FY18 Community Preservation Act (CPA) State Match Info
Lisa Krzywicki – Municipal Databank Director
On November 14th, the Division of Local Services (DLS) released the FY2018 CPA state match to the 162 communities that have adopted the CPA surcharge. The CPA allows a community to adopt a local surcharge of up to three percent that is added to real estate property tax bills. The purpose of the CPA is to help communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing and develop outdoor recreational facilities. The CPA statute, M.G.L. 44B, provides a state match to eligible communities from revenues collected by the registry of deeds for surcharges on fees charged for recording various documents.
In FY2018, the available balance in the CPA state trust fund was $26M, and the local surcharges committed by cities and towns totaled $120.9M, which provided for a 17.2 percent base state match. Chapter 44B provides for an additional state match if a community adopted a three percent surcharge or the “blended” CPA by voting a surcharge of at least one percent and appropriating other funds to the community preservation fund so that the total equals three percent of the real estate tax levy. For FY2018, 76 communities are eligible for the second round or equity distribution and third round surplus distribution. The equity and surplus distributions use population and equalized valuation (EQV) to determine a ranking that would provide a greater portion of the balance of the state trust fund after the initial calculation to poorer and more densely populated communities. However, only those that committed a three percent surcharge whether by adopting a three percent surcharge or the blended CPA (as stated above) are eligible for these additional distributions. The decile ranking used to determine the equity and surplus rounds can be found by clicking here. The distribution summary can be found in this report.
The state community preservation trust fund was created in 2000 and revenues from the registry of deeds started funneling into the trust fund right away. In FY2003, communities started collecting the local CPA surcharge. The first state match occurred in FY2004 based on those local surcharges. In FY2003, 34 communities adopted the CPA and were eligible for the state match. In FY2018, 162 communities were eligible to receive the state match. Until FY2009, the state trust fund was sufficient to provide communities with a 100 percent state match. Due to increasing participation and declining registry collections, DLS has not been able to provide a 100 percent state match since then.
In FY2018, ten additional communities will begin assessing the local CPA surcharge and will be eligible for the state match in FY2019. In the spring of 2018, DLS will project the first round state match for the 172 communities eligible for the state match in FY2019. The ten new communities are Billerica, Boston, Holyoke, Hull, Norwood, Pittsfield, Rockland, Springfield, Watertown and Wrentham. For a complete list of all communities that have adopted the CPA, please click here. As of today, only one other community has scheduled a ballot question to adopt the CPA. Voters in the town of Northbridge will decide next spring whether to add the CPA surcharge at one percent. For the up-to-date listing of communities considering adoption of the CPA, please refer to the Community Preservation Coalition website at www.communitypreservation.org or by clicking here.