Want to work in artistic partnership with a chainsaw carver? Um, duh, who doesn’t? But first, a little background…
It’s one of those one-thing-leads-to-another stories. First, the Town of Natick, in partnership with the Natick Housing Authority, Natick Community Organic Farm and Natick Service Council, has constructed a 40-plot community garden located at 72 South Main Street, on track to open this spring.
Unfortunately, to ensure each of the plots—32 ADA-accessible, and eight in-ground—would have enough sunlight to thrive, a large maple tree had to be felled. Because the purpose of the new community garden is to build resilience to climate change, it may seem counterintuitive to chop down a mature tree. But additional goals were in play such as reducing food insecurity and increasing social resilience among vulnerable populations. Low-income households will have priority access to plot rentals, and the garden is envisioned as a community space where Natick residents can grow their own food, connect with neighbors, and spend time outside. Here’s how to rent a plot.
To sweeten the loss of the maple, the bottom of the tree (approximately 10 feet of stump) was preserved for use as public art. Here’s the part where a lucky and talented someone will get to work with a bad-ass chainsaw artist. In an unusual public art project, the Town has contracted with Michael Legassey of Athol-based Wood Wizards Carvings to complete a “stump carve” to grace the new Erica Ball community garden. If you want to see his work, venture over the border to Overbrook Drive in Wellesley.
The Natick Center Cultural District has put out a call for local artists to help design what Legassey will carve. Artists are not expected to complete the carving; this call is for conceptual designs only. The stump that will be carved is approximately 100 inches tall and 84 inches in diameter. Artists are encouraged to visit 72 South Main St in Natick, MA to see the stump. The site is accessible during daylight hours any day of the week. The artist(s) who submits the winning design will receive a $500 stipend.
Submissions must be received by 4pm on March 1, 2022.
Michael Legassey and Erica Ball will be available on-site, at the Erica Ball Community Garden on Saturday, February 12, 2022 from 9am- 11am to answer questions regarding potential designs.
The project is made possible by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Accelerating Climate Resiliency program and the Barr Foundation.
Plotting and scheming
In addition to the Erica Ball Community Gardens, The Town of Natick operates three other organic community gardens for residents to grow food recreationally and supplementally during the spring and summer months.
Gardeners can use their plots from April to September. Gardeners must reapply every year, but existing members are given priority. Plot fees are due each year and are $75. There are a select number of low-cost plots available to residents for $50. Residents are encouraged to provide their own seeds and tools, but water access and seasonal tool storage is available at each garden.
Questions about the community gardens program can be directed to the Community Gardens Coordinator at email@example.com or by calling 508-647-6400 ext. 2013.