The sustainable garden has been a successful addition to AHS since its inception four years ago; however, with last year’s cut of freshman environmental science classes, fewer students are able to experience and utilize the garden.

Students toil in the sustainable garden, but fewer are doing so since the decrease in Environmental Science classes. (Photo by Marisa Dellatto)
Students toil in the sustainable garden, but fewer are doing so since the decrease in Environmental Science classes. (Photo by Marisa Dellatto)

Located in the courtyard in the center of the school, the garden is co-directed by volunteers Anne Knowles and Michele Maldari. The garden was started to educate students in a hands-on manner about agriculture, plants, sustainability, and generally where their food comes from.

According to environmental science teacher Ms. Burch, the garden fits into both the environmental science and biology curriculum in many ways. It has also been used in French, Spanish, and history classes and it is a hope that more subjects will find a way to incorporate it.

Raspberries, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, beans, herbs and many other plants, flowers and produce are grown throughout the garden. The produce is harvested and then sent directly to the cafeteria and Andover Food Services, where it eventually ends up on your lunch tray or in your salad.

Michele Maldari emphasizes its importance: “There are so many life lessons to be learned by growing your own food. You’d be surprised how many students have never used a shovel before.”

When there were more Environmental Science classes, more students were able to gain the experience and knowledge that the garden offers, and many agree that if there is not a lot of classes going out, a big part of the purpose of the garden is being missed.

Leah Holt, a student in the Environmental Sustainability Internship Class, thought that when there were more classes helping, “It was better in the sense that we had many hands to help with the numerous jobs that had to be accomplished, along with the fact that we were introducing students to things they may have never experienced before.”

Maldari agrees that before “there were more students involved and we introduced gardening to students who might not try it at all”; however, she also stated that despite the lack of classes, “We also produced quite a bit of food for the cafeteria this fall and they were grateful for it.” She credited interns and the “dynamic summer crew,” as Maldari titles them.

During the summer the garden is managed by a group of parent and student volunteers, as well as student interns. In previous years, they have worked to gather produce to sell at the annual Andover Farmers Market, and this year they donated it to Neighbors in Need.

If you are interested in working with the garden, sign up for the Garden Club or contact one of the directors.

The Sustainable Garden is a great privilege to have in our school and, as former director of the garden Mrs. Cutler states, “The power of knowing where our food comes from and how it is grown is a life lesson relevant beyond the sciences.”

By Rebecca Boese