, Gloucester, MA


May 23, 2013

Letter: Keeping Cape Ann in floral splendor

To the editor:

It has been 30 years since I first began roadside clean-ups and gardening on Cape Ann.

You have all seen me over the years, at first as a young man with boundless energy, and now as a man with grey hair and a bald spot, bent over flowers, sweating, barefoot and with dirt on my knees.

I began at the Rockport “dump,” which was kind of a misery of trash. I sifted compost there and distributed it over the hillsides and seeded it with wildflowers. The dump was transformed with color.

I then researched a program where a huge screening device could be brought in to remove the rocks, sticks and trash from the compost pile, and turn the soil into a usable product which foreman Mel George refers to as “black gold.” At last, everyone in town could now take home to their yards clean compost made from the organic refuse they had brought to the Dump in the previous year. This is a perfect example of recycling. Rockport now produces 1,800 cubic yards of fine compost each year for its yards and parks, free to all residents.

I then began picking up trash on Nugent’s Stretch entering town. A week after cleaning, new trash would be in the same spots, so I decided to plant flowers where the trash was worst, thinking beauty might be the cure. Over the years I have planted 2000 daffodils there until I gave up when I realized that road salt killed any bulbs within three years. Only asters and Montauk daisies remain.

I joined the Rockport Beautification Committee and served for 17 years. I personally handed out 2,000 lilac and flowering dogwood seedlings to make the town bloom. I initiated a Merit Awards program, where I annually drove every street in town looking at gardens, and then sent out certificates of thanks to over 3,000 residents to encourage planting flowers visible from the street for all to enjoy.

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