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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Chris Gatti Carries on Her Family’s Love for Gardening

Mar 02, 2021 08:48AM ● By Cynthia Whitty

Chris Gatti becomes president of the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. (Photo/supplied)

Chris Gatti spent the summer of 2020, like so many, tending a dozen tomato plants on the deck of her Ashland home—her version of a pandemic victory garden. Gatti grew heirloom tomatoes, drawing on her experience as a child working at Guidetti’s Market Garden, a tomato farm started by her grandparents in Springfield, Mass., almost a century ago.


The Ashland Garden Club raises funds to maintain public plantings around town and for educational programs. Here, AGC members staff a table at the Ashland Farmers Market to sell garden-related items. Left to right: Carol Tyler, AGC member; Chris Hall, AGC Vice President; Florence Seidell, AGC member; and Chris Gatti, AGC member. (Photo/supplied)

 

“I remember the rows and rows of tomato plants, held upright with wooden stakes and twine.” She recalls helping her grandfather pick tomatoes, and her grandmother, shell beans for the farm stand. “Every time I smell a tomato on the vine, it brings me right back to warm memories.”

Today, Gatti is an active volunteer with the Ashland Garden Club (AGC), served as its treasurer, and was recently elected president of the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association (MMGA) for the 2021-22 term.

Gatti grew up in Springfield and studied elementary education with a focus on urban education at UMass Amherst. After teaching for several years in western Massachusetts, she relocated to Boston, where she worked in training, helping adults develop leadership, management, and communication skills.

Gatti and her husband moved to Ashland in 2001, where she joined the Ashland Garden Club. “I am currently maintaining the Clock Tower Garden on Main Street, and have been doing so for about three years now,” Gatti said. “I help, when needed, with other gardens, including the post office and library gardens.” She loves working on Ashland’s public gardens and seeing residents come by and enjoy them each season. 

Becoming a Master Gardener

For many years Gatti dreamed of becoming a Massachusetts Master Gardener (MMG), through MMGA, but her busy career always stood in the way. In 2014 she took part in the MMGA’s Home Horticultural Evening Lecture Series, offered twice a year. After completing that program, she knew she had found something she loved and resolved to realize her dream of becoming a MMG.

Two years later Gatti graduated from the MMGA Master Gardener Training Program and became a part-time consultant, which allowed her time to volunteer for both AGC and MMGA. Her volunteer work includes MMGA project gardens at the Wheelock School in Medfield and at the Ashland Historical Society.


In addition to her container-grown tomatoes, Gatti’s 2020 home garden projects also included a new raised bed for growing herbs and salad greens, a new shade garden under a weeping cherry tree, and a roadside installation of canna lilies and dwarf zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Currently a Senior Principal Master Gardener (with 650+ hours of volunteering), Gatti rose rapidly through the ranks of the MMGA as Home Hort Coordinator, External Programs Coordinator, Vice President, and now, President.

Save the Date!

The Ashland Garden Club and Ashland Community Gardens at Stone Park will hold a joint virtual program on Saturday, April 10 at 10 a.m. The interactive program will include information on each organization and on Master Gardener Training by Chris Gatti, followed by Q&A. To register, send your name to [email protected] You will be sent login information close to the date of the program.