The sustainable garden at Andover High School is flourishing anew after volunteers, vacationing students and a town garden club stepped in to prevent it from growing fallow
Its rebirth was celebrated and put on public display last week at an open house that honored those responsible for cultivating it back to life.
Parent volunteer Ann Knowles credits the commitment of student interns working over the summer and the generosity of the Andover Garden Club, which donated much-needed funds, with keeping the garden growing.
Last school year, the garden faced an uncertain future with the elimination of the high school’s environmental science class. Historically, students in that class got their hands dirty in the soil every spring, growing produce to sell at the Andover Historical Society’s Farmers Market and for use in the school’s cafeteria, Knowles said.
Not only was the class that tended the garden gone, but the teachers associated with it no longer found they could allot time for its cultivation under the restructured six-class teaching schedule that went into effect last year.
“We had a meeting in January, and sort of asked how we’re going to run this in the absence of a curriculum tie-in,” Knowles said. “The teachers didn’t have the time, or resources, to continue to care for or operate the garden.”
One of those teachers was Melanie Cutler, a high school AP biology teacher who had worked hand-in-hand with the garden and its caretakers since its creation.
“I was worried, because we didn’t have classes working on it, that not much would happen,” Cutler said.
As spring arrived, Knowles and fellow parent volunteer Michelle Maldari, whose children have since graduated, took charge and helped to form the high school gardening club.
“We had the meeting, and we were trying to determine, `How could we run this?’” Knowles said. “Michelle and I said we would continue to keep the garden growing as a school club.”