Impressive Troy Howard Middle School Garden finishes up Open Garden Days
Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days culminates its tour season at the exciting Troy Howard Middle School Garden, 173 Lincolnville Avenue, Belfast on Friday, Sept. 6. There will be student-led tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. of the gardens including greenhouses, outdoor pizza oven, solar kitchen and the farm stand, which will be open until 4 p.m. Tickets for the Open Garden Day can be purchased at the garden for a donation of $4. Proceeds benefit Belfast Garden Club’s civic beautification projects.
At the height of the harvest the vivid colors of late-summer sunflowers, zinnias, gladiolas, scarlet runner beans and morning glories pop against the clear blue sky, and more than 100 varieties of vegetables burst from every corner of the one-acre Troy Howard Middle School Garden. The student garden project was started in 2001 as an addition to the curriculum, and now produces several thousand pounds of organic vegetables, herbs and flowers annually. The crops are used in the school cafeteria, sold to the community at the student-run farm stand, wholesale at The Belfast Coop, and donated to The Belfast Food Kitchen.
Garden tasks and projects integrate into school subjects across disciplines and learning styles, encouraging active learning and healthy living. Garden coordinator Jon Thurston provides steady and enthusiastic guidance, working with students to learn about food history and origin, the best science practices for growing, harvesting and processing vegetables, and experimenting with unusual crops.
Last school year one of the math classes ran a competition to see who could design and map the most creative garden bed. Will Bickford’s winning pizza garden was implemented and visitors will enjoy seeing radiating slice-shaped beds of pizza herbs; basil, fennel, dill, parsley and cilantro surrounding a gallant centerpiece of sunflowers and book-ended with juicy tomatoes.
Another math class contest has resulted in some brilliant new garden beds of flowers and vegetables at the school entrance. The raised beds are built in the shape of the letters T.H.M.S. — the school’s acronym. The beds are currently brimming with huge sunflowers, gladiolas, strawflower, zinnias and other late summer blooms in front of a wall of heirloom popcorn. A cheerful welcome to the returning students!
THMS garden is having a great year for squash, corn, and beans much of which has been delivered to the The Belfast Food Pantry this summer or will be prepared for the school’s cafeteria menu this fall. In the next few weeks students will be harvesting a bed of potatoes from their Jeremy Alex Fund garden plot and bringing them to Belfast’s Coastal Farms and Foods processing center where the potatoes will be cut and frozen for french fries for the school cafeteria!
Cooking and eating are a key part of the THMS Garden Project. The garden’s solar kitchen is complete with gas stove, water system, table and counter space, and radiant floor heating. Students helped build solar panels and recycled soda can solar collectors, which make it a cozy place to be most times of the year. Wood fired pizza, garlic pesto, and steamed tomatillo green salsa have been recent garden culinary favorites.
On the day of the tour the farm stand will be open so that visitors can take fresh vegetables home with them. The regular hours for the farm stand this fall will be Monday through Thursday, 2 to 4 p.m. starting the week after the tour. Look for open garden stand sign at bottom of school driveway.
From Main St. in Belfast travel up the hill to a left on Lincolnville Avenue, which turns into Rt. 52; pass Hannaford and cross Route 1, THMS will be just after the YMCA on your right. Park in the back by the big greenhouse. Wheelchair accessible.
For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, email email@example.com, or visit www.belfastgardenclub.org.