A course offering change is expected to hit the high school’s student-run sustainable garden in the years ahead, and one local business owner is chipping in to keep the garden growing.
Every Saturday at the Andover Historical Society’s Farmers Market, a group of Andover High students who work in the school’s garden sell the fruits of their labor alongside other farmers from around the region. Many of the students took the school’s Environmental Science course as freshmen, but this year the course isn’t being offered to students from that grade. Students will be able to take the course as sophomores, as an elective. But some members of the program worry this won’t be enough to keep the Andover High School garden going.
The garden grows in an atrium space at Andover High on Shawsheen Road.
Evan Doyle, 17 and one of the students who works on the garden, said the change in the course “is kind of a problem” for those who want to keep the garden strong.
“A lot of the students we get come from the Environmental Science course as freshmen. They get extra credit to help the garden, and they work on the garden during class,” said Evan. With the expected change, “the number of people doing the garden will be smaller.”
Recently, Matt Morello, owner of downtown restaurant Brasserie 28, said he met the students at their farmstand and tried their produce. After using some of the produce as ingredients in his restaurant’s meals, Morello went to the school to see the garden first-hand.
“We were able to go up and see it, and I think what they’re doing is amazing,” said Morello. “We were really inspired by them. We want to help them out.”
Next week, Brasserie 28 is one of hundreds of restaurants participating in BostonChefs.com’s Restaurant Week. For two weeks beginning Sunday, Aug. 19, every item Brasserie 28 sells from its Restaurant Week menu - each priced $33.12 as required by the Restaurant Week program - will raise money - $3.12, in fact - for the garden.
“They’re doing a lot of physical labor and showing a lot of passion for things that you probably don’t understand unless you saw it,” said Morello. “Things like this are important, not just to strengthen community ties. The kids were so interesting when we went up to the farm. They were really excited to show us what they were doing, and we all felt really good leaving that.”
In the future, Morello hopes to turn what is a charitable donation this year into something like an annual scholarship, he said.
“I haven’t been able to really speak to the school. It’s up to really them how they want to proceed,” said Morello. “I know they’re excited that we’re doing it, and we’re just trying to see if a committee needs to be formed or how it’s going to be.”
Not even considering the long-term plans, students with the garden are thrilled to have Brasserie 28’s support, they said.
With the extra help, “we can keep it going,” said 14-year-old Connie Cung, who also works on the garden. “With the extra publicity, the [high school’s student] council can see how important it is to keep it running.”
“It’s good to see local businesses supporting sustainable agriculture and the work we do,” added Doyle.
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