A Beverly, Massachusetts, man is growing vegetables on a traffic island and donating them to people in need. Since 2016, the philanthropist has donated over 20,000 pounds (approx. 9,072 kg) of vegetables to the homeless community, local food pantries, and charities serving low-income families.
John Fallon, 61, grew up in Beverly Farms and learned how to garden from his Irish immigrant father. Since retiring from a career as a test engineer, Fallon has become an advocate for economic and social justice.
“People get laid off and can’t find jobs for reasons they have no control of,” Fallon told Boston Globe, having once been laid off himself in 2007. “Everyone should help those less fortunate than them.”
Fallon started out donating tomato plants from his home garden to a farming program for inner-city kids. He graduated to working at Beverly’s community garden, in conjunction with church-run meals programs in the following year, before launching his own project in 2016.
After securing authorization from the state Department of Transportation, Fallon claimed a patch of unused land on a traffic island at Beverly’s Hale Street to grow organic crops for charity. In its first year, and for three successive years, the 8,000-square-foot Beverly Farms Gardens produced an average of 3,000 pounds (approx. 1,361 kg) of produce.
Fallon grows around 1,000 plants, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer, acorn, and butternut squash, green and golden zucchini, eggplant, and broccoli, with occasional help from volunteers. In response to the 2020 pandemic, Fallon upped the ante.
Fallon calculated 8,300 pounds (approx. 3,765 kg) of produce harvested for the year in total. “[I] hope to make 10,000 next year, with some donations for equipment,” Fallon explained to The Epoch Times via email.
Over the years, he has formed a successful partnership with Landmark School in Beverly, claiming that the students comprise “one of my dearest volunteer groups.”
“[I]t is a school for those who have dyslexia and the volunteers are all part of the Environmental Science class taught by Jen Kuhns,” Fallon explained. Describing Kuhns as “a very special person” who grew up on a farm and imparts her wisdom to her students, Fallon praised her seniors for being “great kids.”
“They have spent a lot of time helping me, including seeding plants at their school greenhouse,” he said.
Fallon promotes his “mini-farm” as an outside classroom, and an experience in helping those who are less fortunate, for all local educational institutions.
Beverly Farms Gardens is entirely funded by Fallon plus donations from individuals, local businesses, churches, and The Farms-Prides Community Association, with whom he continues to work.
“I have watched John over the last five years turn a barren plot of land into a lush, productive garden supplying food to needy families,” Rick Lord, The Farms-Prides Community Association’s president, told Boston Globe. “John is an amazingly selfless and hard-working farmer.”
As for what the future holds, Fallon hopes to raise enough money in donations to optimize the land by setting up an irrigation system and buying a dump truck, a landscape cargo trailer, a hoop-house greenhouse, a generator, and a welder for maintenance and repairs.
The selfless gardener’s vision is for others to be inspired by his model.
“It’s not good for the environment to try and grow everybody’s food in one place like we’re doing right now in the Midwest,” Fallon told WCVB. “If we had a lot of decentralized local gardens where we tried to take care of our own, use our own resources, it’s better.”
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