Our History

We began life as a group of neighbors convened by our founder, Claudia Thompson, caring about the stewardship of our lands and viewing them as a shared commons that determines much about the health of our ecosystem. In 2009, we exchanged ideas over potluck dinners, built our first website, and then operated for our first year as Grow Native Cambridge. We initiated our public lecture series, ran workshops, and provided technical assistance to a team of middle school teachers developing a STEM curriculum focused on biodiversity and the creation of a native plant garden. In May 2010, we incorporated as Grow Native Massachusetts, knowing that our advocacy for native plant landscapes was equally important in cities and towns across the state. Our young programs had been immediately embraced by many throughout the Boston region, and we committed to continued program growth to serve communities across the Commonwealth. Looking back, our founding charter crafted by our earliest members still resonates, reflecting our core beliefs and reasons for acting.

  • Clethra in the fall light.

    Our Founding Charter

    We are an organization rooted in community. As friends, neighbors, and citizens, we are inspired by the significance of our gardens and green spaces that contribute to the integrity of our common ecosystem.

    We cultivate them for beauty and biodiversity, aspiring to create essential habitat for birds, butterflies and wildlife, and to better understand the delicate balance that weaves all life together.

    We recognize that native plants create the foundation for healthy ecological communities, and know that our world—both locally and globally—is threatened by a decrease in native plant populations and the proliferation of invasives.

    Therefore, we act to:

    • Steward our land, no matter how big or small, for conservation.
    • Plant our gardens with an emphasis on natives.
    • Work together to aid in the identification and removal of invasive weeds.
    • Build our community through education and dialog.

  • A Brief Timeline of Moments We Remember Well

    This brief list is meant to share moments and benchmarks that reflect our growth from an all volunteer community organization, to a growing nonprofit committed to advancing our mission on an ever larger scale.


    • We incorporate as a charitable nonprofit organization in May.
    • Doug Tallamy gives the inaugural lecture for our Evenings with Experts at the Cambridge Public Library in June. The event is co-sponsored by six other groups in metro-Boston.
    • We commence our Gatherings, for members to share knowledge and learn from each other


    • We receive our IRS 501(c)3 determination in January.
    • We begin our Traveling Talks program in March.
    • Evenings with Experts is significantly expanded to 5 lectures per year.
    • We hold our first Festival Floralia in May, a plant sale and fundraiser that continues for three years.


    • We adopt our mission and vision statements, and complete our first strategic plan.


    • We implement significant technology capacity essential to growth—integrating our organizational database with our eNews distribution and credit card processing.


    • June: We rent office space at the UMass Field Station in Waltham, MA— moving operations out of our founder’s house.
    • We hire our first staff person in August, to support our incredible volunteer run programs!


    • We hold our first Native Plant Sale structured in its current form, modified from the Festival Floralia model.
    • Evenings with Experts is changed to four lectures per year and we begin videotaping programs for free distribution on our website.


    • We start work on our Demonstration Garden at Beaver Street, with a significant invasive removal project and reclaiming a 1-acre garden formerly used by a wide variety of horticultural groups.
    • Our Evenings with Experts lectures are now averaging over 155 participants per event.


    • We initiate a campaign for growth and hire a second staff person.
    • We complete major planting projects in our Demonstration Garden.
    • We begin a Workshops program for in-depth training.


    • Our fourth Native Plant Sale sold almost 4,000 plants representing 132 species, and we filled 80 pre-orders for members.
    • Our Evenings with Experts lectures have now been attended by 3,914 people since inception, with even more viewing our videos.
    • Our Traveling Talks this have now reached 71 communities with 3,296 people participating.
    • Our annual budget grows to $153,000.


    • Is still in progress. Stay tuned!