Author Archives: John McElhenny

Clean-up of Burnham’s Field this Saturday at 8 a.m.

All are invited to the clean-up of Burnham’s Field tomorrow (Saturday, June 17) at 8 a.m. (rain or shine). Can you believe it’s our 4th annual clean-up? (the photo below is from one of our past clean-ups) Bring a rake or broom or gloves or just yourself – we’ll bring the yellow trash bags! Burnham’s Field is the largest green space and ball field in central Gloucester. There’s plenty of parking in the lot at 4 Sargent Street. Thanks in advance and see you Saturday morning!

photo of trash cleanup at Burnham's Field


Are you Sicilian or are you Italian?

IMG_4658.JPGSt. Peter’s Fiesta is coming and the Sicilian flag is popping up all over Gloucester. This one is in our neighborhood downtown at Pleasant and Prospect streets. We love our Sicilian pals and neighbors in Gloucester (including the creator of this blog). Our daughter’s birthday party this year included a “Martina,” “two Sofia’s” and a “Maria.” Our son’s been known to wonder why all his buddies have jet black hair except him. Which got me to wondering – are Sicilians really Italian? Through most of history, Sicily wasn’t Italian. It became part of Italy only in 1861. Sicilian peeps – are you Sicilian or Italian?

A New Garden Grows in the Heart of Gloucester

Garden photo 1

(photo caption: Victoria Martins, Gina Briguglio, City Councilor Melissa Cox and Lara Lepionka cut the ribbon of the second Burnham’s Field Community Garden. Photo by Anna Swanson).

I don’t know the first thing about planting a garden but I know there’s a park in the center of Gloucester where people used to be afraid to send their kids and a few years ago some neighbors started a community garden in the park and now families play on the playground and kids learn to ride their bikes and there are kids playing and running in the park all the time soccer and basketball and baseball and football.

Burnham’s Field — 7 acres of grass, ballfields and playground across Pleasant Street from St. Ann’s Church — was once a landfill. True story. They took the fill from building projects in East Gloucester and other parts of the city and dumped it in Burnham’s. It was more marsh than field in those days.

Eight or nine years ago, some neighbors met with the City because they were tired of what Burnham’s Field had become. Tired of the drug use and graffiti and drinking and other bad stuff. Tired of being afraid to send their kids to play there or to walk there after dark. So they decided to make the field safe for families and kids again. They decided to take Burnham’s back.

It all started with a community garden.

There’s this idea that when lots of people are in a park doing positive things, there’ll be fewer people doing bad things. That was the idea behind the Burnham’s Field Community Garden, which opened in 2011 (see the GMG story here). After the garden opened, all of a sudden there were people working in the 20 new garden plots and keeping an eye on the field at all hours of the day.

Since then, neighbors and the City have continued to renovate Burnham’s Field. Two new playgrounds. Softball backstops and bleachers. Basketball backboards. A lighted paved walkway around the field. Trees and benches. Burnham’s Field is now full of kids and families playing at all hours. Families are no longer afraid to go there. It’s become a huge gathering place for families in central Gloucester.

So it was a big deal this weekend when the Backyard Growers and Burnham’s Field Community Gardeners held a ribbon-cutting celebration to open a second garden of 16 plots in Burnham’s Field. That’s 16 new families who’ll have their own plot to grow vegetables and herbs and flowers. And 16 new families who’ll be part of the good things happening in Burnham’s Field.

I don’t know the first thing about gardening but I know the number of people who care about a once tired old park in the heart of Gloucester is growing just as surely as the tomato plants and strawberry vines. And that’s a good thing.

Garden photo 4

Garden photo 2Garden photo 3