The Mary M. B. Wakefield Charitable Trust takes its name and purpose from Mary “Polly” Wakefield, who lived most of her life at the estate. Polly died in 2004. The purpose of the Wakefield Charitable Trust is to carry on the legacy of Polly Wakefield and her vision for a citizenry engaged and knowledgeable about the environment surrounding it.
Polly was an advocate and leader on many environmental issues of her day. She was a trained horticulturist and landscape designer who loved to design gardens and experiment with shrubs and tress, most notably Kousa Dogwoods. Two of the most highly praised dogwood cultivars today, “Greensleeves” and “Fanfare,” were actually propagated and patented by Polly.
In one of her writings, Polly wrote “America is rapidly becoming a nation of spectators and a nation of consumers. To maintain the American tradition, we must return to participation and creativity. Milk wasn’t born in a bottle nor eggs in a carton nor beans in a box. Let us organize to re-establish the contact between the land and the people.”
The staff and trustees of the Wakefield Charitable Trust are carrying out Polly’s wishes and vision to transform the estate into a place of life-long participatory learning. Over the past two years we have been reaching out to community members, building relationships with a number of organizations and developing programs that take advantage of the many learning opportunities that the estate provides. We have provided internships to graduate students from Boston University and Simmons College who have carried out archival and archaeological research. We have hired summer youth interns who worked hard to reinvigorate the estate’s landscape. We have hosted open houses and tours to welcome in neighbors and area residents to brainstorm with us new programming that meets the interests of surrounding communities.
During the past two years, the organization has hosted a wide array of programs. In 2009, we hosted over 1000 students from Boston Public on science-related field experiences funded by a pilot GOAL (Get Out And Learn) grant from Boston Youth Environmental Network. We also piloted a new science-oriented after school program for students of four Milton Public Schools and offered a series of hands-on landscaping workshops and volunteer gardening opportunities. During the past two years we have offered lectures on a variety of topics that highlighted the connections between the Wakefield estate and its natural and historical context. We even brought back some farm animals to the property – chickens, and hopefully we will be able to bring back sheep in the future. You can read about most of our recent events and more from the past two years by visiting news. In 2010, we will offer some of these again as well as a number of new programs. For a list of events scheduled for 2010 please visit our calendar.