By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – While the academic school year is wrapping up, Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) culinary students and a group of students from the world language department have just begun preparing the school's Serenity Garden for planting.
Overseeing the garden will be members of the ARHS Environmental Club and their teacher advisors, Susan Halpin (applied arts and technology), Caroline Flynn (instructional support) and Zbysia Giegucz (instructional support aide).
“I’ve been an environmentalist for a long time,” said Club President Jillian Rizzitano. “I started my own club when I was in sixth grade at Trottier Middle School and have been working toward making environmental changes in the school, the community, and the world ever since.”
The Serenity Garden, located in the courtyard in the center of the school, will be planted with a variety of fruits and vegetables – carrots, tomatoes, lettuces, herbs (basil, mint, oregano, thyme, and chives), zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, carrots, potatoes, pumpkins, green beans and more. A majority of the plants have been donated by Gillis Landscape and Garden Center of Berlin.
“The purpose of the garden is to promote interest in more healthy eating choices for students,” said Halpin. “We believe that if students have an opportunity to grow their food they will be more likely to choose fruits and vegetables as opposed to processed foods. We also try to promote basic cooking skills with recipes that are easy, economical and taste really good.”
Once the garden is ready, members of the Environmental Club along with a handful of culinary students, life skills students, and any other students looking to volunteer, will help with planting. Additionally, students have the option to donate their time for community service and earn school credits.
The Northborough Senior Center will also be involved in the garden as students in the Community Action Program will partner with seniors and work together with them to maintain the garden over the summer months.
Produce grown in the Serenity Garden will be used in nutrition and culinary arts classes through the “Cooking Matters” program run by the Northborough Food Pantry; at Food, Fun, & Sun, a gardening camp run by the Northborough Recreation Department; or donated to the Northborough Food Pantry.
In order to keep up with picking and weeding, the Environmental Club is in need of volunteers to “drop-in” on Tuesday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. beginning July 1. There will be a Framingham State University food and nutrition graduate working with the volunteers to help keep the garden weeded and produce picked. Anyone interested in helping is asked to email the club at [email protected]. For more information on the club and its activities, visit http://web.nsboro.k12.ma.us/algonquin/organizations/EcoClub/index.html