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Church clears diseased, invasive species trees from Northfield property, plans expanded community garden

A pile of downed tree trunks sitting across Sunset Ridge Road from the Sunset Ridge School in Northfield doesn’t represent some kind of arboreal vandalism. Instead, the trees cleared adjacent to the Episcopal Church of St. James the Less included diseased and dead ash, as well as invasive buckthorn, a church official said Monday.

Later this year, the newly cleared property will allow the church, at 550 Sunset Ridge Road, to expand its community garden program, and ultimately to provide public green space, Rev. Lisa Senuta said.

Senuta said the church had an estimated 80 percent of the trees and brush that once stood on the church’s property at the intersection of Sunset Ridge and Willow roads removed in February as part of a multi-purpose capital campaign.

The church has operated a community garden on the property for the past five years, Senuta said. That includes about 10 garden plots, another two raised garden plots, and about 21 fruit trees, she said.