In 2009, my family and I started a small public garden near our home in Brookline, MA.

We lived in condo without a yard or any growing space, and I really wanted to grow some vegetables (when we lived in Roxbury, I helped run a couple community gardens there). We came across this strip of unused land, about 2 feet wide and 200 feet long on the way to the T. Rather than try to set up a garden just for ourselves, we decided to try to make a public vegetable garden. And rather than worrying about people stealing produce, we decided to make it a “gift garden” or a “commuter garden,” with the idea of making the vegetables free and accessible to all. We grew a variety of climbing vegetables on a long chain-link fence—cucumbers, squash, snow peas—and other vegetables in front of the fence—tomatoes and tomatillos and greens—that people could easily pick on their way to or from the trolley. It was a powerful and joyous experience in on-the-ground community building and public vegetable growing.

We documented the project on a blog.