Brewster Dedicates Outdoor Pavilion At Community Garden

by Rich Eldred

BREWSTER – Community gardens are really for the community, not just the gardeners that tend a plot. Brewster’s community garden broadened its horizons on May 1, when the Brewster Conservation Trust and town officials dedicated an outdoor education pavilion and an heirloom apple orchard to go along with the existing children’s garden, wildflower meadow and nature trails.

The fertile land was donated to the Trust by founding members Mary-Louise and Ruth Eddy in 1984.

“A friend of theirs said every town should have two people like Ruth and Mary Louise,” old friend Roger O’Day said. “But no other town does. They established the Eddy Foundation that continues their work.”

The Eddy School is named after them, as is the nature trail that begins at the community gardens,

“This is a Brewster Conservation Trust property,” noted Jeanie Yaroch, the communications and outreach coordinator for the BCT. “The children’s garden is something we do in collaboration with the master gardeners. Last year we started an heirloom apple orchard and started working on the structure of the outdoor classroom. It will serve as host for apple themed workshops, other instruction and shelter for gardeners. It’s another community resource.”

The community garden is on 18.5 acres of land that originally belonged to Ruth and Mary-Louise Eddy’s grandfather, who named his farm Pinecroft. It was part of their farm and was mostly open meadow with a stream running through to an old cranberry bog. The open meadow was utilized for the community garden. A children’s garden was added in 2007 where Cape Cod Master Gardeners work with local kids to grow beans, flowers, lettuce, squash, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables. Seven young heirloom apple saplings, ordered from Fedco Seeds in Maine, were planted in 2023 with wire cages to protect them from voles, mice, rabbits, etc. that would nibble the tasty bark. The first apples in America were likely planted in Massachusetts, and Roxbury russet was grown on the farm of Ebenezer Davis circa 1635. So this state is where orcharding began on the continent.

Pine Harbor Structures started building the pavilion for outdoor talks, instruction and shade in the fall. It opens to the community garden on one side and the apple orchard on the other.

The pavilion was surrounded by wood chips and blueberry bushes.

“This project was a long time coming, over a year,” BCT Executive Director Amy Henderson said. “I want to thank the members of the planning committee, the town of Brewster, the Brewster Department of Public Works, Katie Spengler (the BCT land stewardship director), Charlie Egan built the benches, the landscaping volunteers, Pine Harbor, the donors.”

“I want to point out what a special piece of land this is,” said Hal Minis, a BCT trustee. “It is flat terrain, deep soil that was planted by the Wampanoags and early colonists. In the late 1800s Solomon Freeman sold it to Augustus Thorndike.”

Thorndike was the Eddy sisters’ grandfather and an innovative cranberry grower who linked his bogs to Cobb Pond for irrigation.

The land eventually passed down to the sisters, who also donated 32 more acres just up the street that run all the way from Lower Road to Cape Cod Bay. The BCT opened walking trails on both properties. Working jointly with the Audubon Society they opened an interpretive trail through a wetland with vernal pools next to Brewster’s two elementary schools that is well used by students of the Eddy School for their science program.

“We’re happy today to take another step,” Minis said.

“It’s a pleasure to open the orchard and outdoor classroom,” Select Board Chair Ned Chatelain added. “The community garden is right here on land managed by the Brewster Conservation Trust. Children today are learning skills they’ll use in decades to come and will be tending the orchard we dedicated today.”

O’Day, another founding Trustee of the BCT and retired attorney, recalled the Eddy sisters.

“They’ve done so much it’s impossible to list it all. It all started with the Eddys,” he said. “They were there at the beginning of the BCT and they were just wonderful people. They were very generous in doing this and other things for the town.”

Mary Louise passed away at the age of 87 in 2002 while Ruth passed on three years later at age 84. Along with another sister, Jean, they grew up spending summers at Pinecroft Farm at 667 Lower Rd. By 1955 they’d built their own cottage on the land. They retired to the original farmhouse at 593 Lower Rd., the Captain Willard Higgins house. In 1974 they donated a conservation restriction on the 32 acres running to the bay. The title to that land was donated in 2000. They co-founded the BCT in 1983. The 18-acre Thorndike bog was one of the BCT’s first acquisitions.

“By August this will be a beehive of activity,” predicted Cal Mutti of the BCT. “It really is an echo chamber of life and human activity.”