A mysterious rock with a missing plaque. A Town benefactor whose father had been an enslaved man. And a tree planting project at Avery Field that has become a celebration of sustainability and diversity in our community.
Last year, Green Needham ran a special campaign as part of an ongoing effort to encourage Needham residents to get Home Energy Assessments through the Mass Save program. For each completed energy assessment done by our Mass Save partner, Home Works Energy, Green Needham would donate $25 towards tree planting in Needham.
Green Needham accumulated enough money to purchase several trees. Last spring, working with the Town to find a suitable planting site at the newly renovated Avery Field, Green Needham chair Michael Greis noticed a large rock with a missing plaque.
Fortunately, Michael knew just who to ask about the plaque. Gloria Greis, Executive Director of the Needham History Center and Museum, explained that the stone and plaque had been placed to commemorate Richard Fry, a respected and active citizen of Needham and son of a formerly enslaved man. Funds from Richard Fry’s estate helped support an earlier renovation of Avery Field.
This forgotten story prompted the idea of replacing the missing plaque and incorporating the donated trees and some low-maintenance plants around the site, thus celebrating sustainability, history, diversity and shared public spaces.
Green Needham has reached out to local garden clubs and volunteers to lay out the space and select low maintenance native plantings, with advice from Needham’s parks and forestry professionals. Volunteers will do the ground plantings. The parks and forestry team will plant the trees and maintain the site going forward.
The cost of the plaque is estimated at approximately $1,500, including installation. Green Needham has already raised a portion of the funds. The goal is to secure the balance before the end of the summer and complete the project by the early fall, with a community dedication to celebrate the story of Richard Fry and the new plantings.
Would you like to help? In addition to reaching out to community organizations to underwrite those costs, Green Needham welcomes individual donations from community members.