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Anyone Can Pick Food From the Merrimack Garden

Drew MacInnis and Joseph Jorgenson

The Merrimack Garden is a community-run garden located at 27 Rock Ridge Road, North Andover, MA. This growing season, the garden will be filled with blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, basil, thyme, zinnias, lavender, and other plantings. Anyone in the Merrimack community can wander over and pick whatever they’d like. The garden’s open nature allows for everyone to have access to fresh and healthy food at no cost. 

The Merrimack Garden consists of 9 raised planting beds, with an additional 3 beds being added this year. A group of students in Dr. Lisa Perks’s Garden Memoirs course is building a wheelchair accessible raised bed. The garden aims to be an inclusive place that anyone can enjoy. 

Garden Memoirs students have worked hard throughout the semester to research garden improvements. Some of these improvements include clearer plant signs, pollinator-friendly plantings, crop rotation, accessibility, enhanced soil fertility, and water-conserving mulch. 

Thanks to support from Merrimack’s McLaughlin Martin Family Environmental Innovation Fund, the class is purchasing plants and other needed resources. All of these spring projects will make the garden even more productive, inclusive, and beautiful in the upcoming seasons. 

The Merrimack Garden has been a way for students to connect with nature and the local food supply since 2018. It is an important space for the growth and development of not only the plants in the garden but of the students, too. 

“I can’t wait to visit the garden this fall to see all of the progress it’s made and all the food that we’ve grown!” said Garden Memoirs student Hannah Gibbs. Loads of plants will be fruiting or blooming when students return this August. 

The garden is an excellent place to escape the stress of everyday life, enjoy the outdoors, and maybe even go home with a healthy treat.

 Dr. Andrew Tollison of the Communication and Media Department, recently volunteered at the garden with his Food and Communication students. Tollison described the garden as “a magical place, relationship builder, and a great reminder to slow down and take a breath.” 

We hope for the Merrimack Garden to continue to be that healthy escape for our community for years to come.