• Indoor garden flourishes at Billerica's Marshall Middle School

    WickedLocal Billerica
    By Nick Greenhalgh

    Posted March 23, 2018. Click link to go to original article and view Wicked Local staff photos.

    Amid the hustle and bustle in the hallways at Marshall Middle School, a treasure sits inside Sue Laferriere’s classroom.
    Tucked in the back of the room rests an indoor vegetable garden, overflowing with lettuce and basil grown by her middle school students.
    “It’s a life lesson,” Laferriere said, pointing at the plants before looking at her students.
    The indoor garden was first launched at the Marshall in January after Laferriere received a $500 grant to purchase equipment.
    Her life skills students filled the three growing beds with soil and seeds, watering routinely, and letting the artificial light do its magic.
    The opportunity made perfect sense for Laferriere, as the students were already learning about plants and photosynthesis.
    “You don’t just read about it, you see it. It’s a daily thing with them and they see it,” she said.
    After their first harvest, the students took samples through the school cafeteria for their classmates to taste. Since then, they’ve already had two more harvests and are embarking on a fourth.
    In the Marshall Middle School classroom on March 22, students had mixed-reviews on the taste of the vegetables of their labor.
    Some enjoyed the taste, while others weren’t so enthused by the green vegetables.
    That aside, the students will create a salad bar out of their next harvest.
    “We’re going to have a salad bar luncheon with the kids and they are excited about that,” Laferriere said.
    Earlier this year, the students attempted to grow oregano and parsley, but unfortunately it didn’t take to the conditions. They’ll continue with lettuce and basil for now, as the project has become a phenomenon across the school.
    Students and teachers have visited the garden and over school vacation week, Marshall Middle School custodians made sure to water the plants.
    “It is a cool thing to have an indoor garden,” Laferriere said.
    The project has exceeded expectations for Billerica Public Schools Director of School Nutrition April Laskey.
    “The Classroom Garden partnership with Ms. Laferriere and the cafe has been a huge success. Ms. Laferriere’s students have planted, grown and harvested lettuce and herbs which is then brought to the Marshall cafe. The Billerica Schools Nutrition Services Team is able to highlight and serve healthy lunch choices that have been harvested at the Marshall, amazing,” she said.
    In the future, the school will receive a second indoor garden and hope to try planting other herbs and vegetables.

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