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Lowell School Organic Garden Pilot Project

Project Details

Year: 2013
Location: Lowell
Project Manager: Lydia Sisson, Mill City Grows
Partners: The Dr. An Wang School, Lowell School Department, City of Lowell Solid & Waste Recycling, Pawtucketville Citizens Council, and the Pawtucketville Memorial School


Mill City Grows educated the community about the risks of using herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in gardening and landscaping. In partnership with the Lowell School Department, the project team planted four garden beds at the Dr. An Wang and Pawtucketville Memorial Schools in Lowell. Students, teachers and parents grew vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruits that in turn function as a training and resource center on how to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in the garden. Mill City Grows’ School Garden Pilot is a model for organic food production in the school community setting. Through the documentation of the creation process, as well as training and workshops, the team created a model that can be replicated at other schools in the City of Lowell and in the region. 


Leading up to the April 20th Garden Build Day, garden committee members recruited volunteers, solicited donations, gathered supplies, and undertook build-day logistic planning.  Mill City Grows staff created informational flyers on organic food production for distribution at Garden Build Day.  MCG outreached to the school community, including School Committee members, teachers, parents, neighbors, and elected officials to attend Build Day.  Community partner Pawtucketville Citizens Council applied for additional funding and coordinated with the Greater Lowell Technical High School carpentry program to construct and install the garden shed.  Care was taken to build the shed out of natural, untreated wood.  Trainings and workshops took place following Build Day.  On April 23rd, Mill City Grows staff met with 6 Wang science, literacy and health teachers to create garden plans that linked to curriculum units, including botany, ecology, soil, Early Americans, and nutrition.  Garden plans reflected both academic content as well as school calendar limitations, with preference given to quick-maturing varieties to allow students to sample the harvest from the garden.  Summer garden caretakers were recruited from school family networks as well as the surrounding neighborhood.  Mill City Grows provided a volunteer training on June 5th, with 5 volunteers in attendance.  Basic organic garden maintenance topics were covered, from watering to weeding to fertilizing.  Pawtucketville Memorial parent Katie Dube has taken the lead in organizing and coordinating summer care of the garden, and has developed a planting plan in collaboration with teachers to ensure that the garden is ready for fall learning in September.  

This page updated Monday July 23 2018