August, 2023 – Last year, Green Needham ran a special campaign as part of our ongoing Home Energy Savings project to 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.

This spring, Michael Greis talked with Needham’s Parks & Forestry division about a suitable location to plant several trees that we will donate as a result of the program.  They had just completed a renovation project at Avery Field.  Toward the rear left of the site (as seen from Webster St.) is a stone 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.  Gloria knew the story and had a picture of the missing plaque.  The stone and plaque had been placed to commemorate the story of Richard Fry, son of a formerly enslaved man who became a respected and active citizen of Needham.  Funds from his estate helped support an earlier renovation of Avery Field.  His story prompted the idea of replacing the missing  plaque and incorporating our donated trees and some low-maintenance plants around the site.

It is a project that creates and strengthens our shared sense of community, bringing together and celebrating sustainability, history, diversity and shared public spaces.

We have put together a plan for executing this project.  Green Needham will purchase and donate the trees.  We are aiming to have a planning meeting at the site sometime at the end of July or in early August to design the space for the ground plantings.  We are seeking garden club participants (whether it’s a single club, a collaboration among several clubs or individual members drawn from several clubs) to lay out the space and select the plantings (low maintenance, perennial and native if possible), with advice and counsel from our parks & forestry professionals.  The parks and forestry team will then excavate and prepare the site, and plant the trees.  Volunteers would do the ground plantings. Parks & forestry will maintain them going forward.

We have estimates for the cost of the plaque (about $1,500, including installation).  We are reaching out to community organizations to underwrite those costs and welcoming individual donations from community members.

We have already raised a portion of the funds.  If we can secure the balance before the end of the summer, we would be able to complete the work and get the plaque installed by the early fall, when we would hold a community dedication to celebrate the story of Richard Fry and the role of sustainability and diversity in our community.