Barre’s Metro Way Community Garden Looks to the Future

By Dory Cooper, Communication Intern

Metro Way Community Garden - BarreThe Metro Way Community Garden gave up its downtown Barre location after six years, and was dismantled on Oct. 18th. The
space behind Merchant Row was lent to the Metro Way Garden by City Mayor Thom Lauzon for use in 2009 on the stipulation that if the local business expanded significantly, the vacant lot would be turned into a parking lot to allow for more visitors. The time has come where parking will be needed soon, and even though there is no timeline of when the lot will be constructed, this was the last season for the garden in that location.

More than three-quarters of the garden was dismantled on Oct. 18 with the help of garden members and volunteers from around the state. “Everyone had something to offer and showed up with a meaningful contribution. There was space for every emotion and idea. We worked, rested, played and celebrated. It was intense!” said co-founder Sandra Lory.

Without a new location lined up, the Metro Way Garden coordinators decided to gift the pieces of the garden that could not be stored in order support other gardeners and to ensure that their efforts were not wasted. The garden’s soil and raised beds were given to backyards and community gardens in the area, like Barre City Elementary School and Green Acres.

The Garden’s Impact on the Community:

Over the last six years, the Metro Way Community Garden played an active and vibrant role in the downtown Barre community. It functioned as an  educational space for elementary school field trips, natural builders, food justice organizers, herbalists, artists, poets, and surrounding residents  who want to eat healthier but had no place or knowledge of how to grow their own food.

In VCGN’s September Garden Spotlight, Outreach Coordinator, Jessica Sanderson, highlighted the relationship of the garden and food insecurity in Barre. The area is an urban food desert, meaning a substantial number of residents have little access to fresh foods or grocery stores. The rise in awareness to food accessibility contributed to the Metro Way Garden’s growth and success by bringing in new visitors, grants, and gardeners.IMG_3489

The garden members are proud of the garden’s success and realize that even though its time was cut shorter than expected, the garden’s impact will last a lifetime. It taught children about healthy food, brought together friends, and touched the hearts of visitors. The garden proved that there is immense power in a small group of people who feel passionate about making change happen in their community.

One garden member, Jeanne Daniele told the Times Argus that even though the team is remorseful, they are still hopeful about the possibility of moving to a new location. Daniele said, “we know we can do something just as nice someplace else, but this part of the neighborhood is going to be lost. Of all things do we need another parking lot?”

Looking Forward:

The group at Metro Way Garden may have had to dismantle their garden, but the group still plans to stay together. There are monthly potlucks and events planned through July. The group will “reflect and reconnect, make elderberry syrup and discuss loose ends, like who will spearhead a new project at another site, as well as who will stick around to re-work the tiny green strip intended at Metro Way,” said Sandra. They also plan to continue their annual Seed Swap in January, take part in the Barre Heritage Parade in July, and continue to be active in VCGN’s workshops and events.

Group members are actively searching for a new site to revive the garden at a new location that will be just as beautiful and beneficial to the community. Sandra says there is limited public space available downtown that isn’t contaminated by industrial sites and is accessible to gardeners without transportation. There has been talk of relocating to the Granite Museum, which would complement the Farmer’s Market and improve food security in the “edge-of-town location.” The only piece of the garden that will remain at the old site is the iconic cob shed, which Mayor Thom Lauzon has promised a safe relocation once a new growing area is finalized.

A messgae from co-founder Sandra  Lory:

“I want to be sure to honor the other co-founders – Lori Somaini, Teresa Allen, Emily Kaminsky, and Nancy Wolfe, all Barre women who saw a pressing need for increased food security and green space in downtown Barre.  Others have taken the organizer reigns over the years, including Jessica Sanderson and John Lepage who came on board shortly after breaking ground for the site, sinking their love into the project for the long haul.Gratitude for those (too many people to name here) who were part of the inclusive, wild, colorful, open-air, urban community center and garden at Metro Way. It’s been a good ride.”

Sandra asks that if you have visited the Metro Way Garden, or are inspired by their story, to please send a note, photo, or video to to forward for their garden scrapbook.

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