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Garden Memoirs

 Haley Dufton

Sweet Potatoes, Apple pies, and pickles.

These are just some of the foods being made or grown in the Garden Memoirs class taught by Communications professor and avid gardener, Dr. Lisa Perks. The class is dedicated to teaching students through both reading and writing about the processes of sustainability and the act of producing their own food. 

Since it was first offered as a class in the Spring of 2019, Garden Memoirs’ goal was to simplify student ideas of growing their own food. Dr. Perks hopes that by taking this class, students will come away from it having the “confidence to explore growing their own food, whether it be over spring break or ten years from now down when they have their own condo with a balcony.”

Dr. Perks hopes that this class will give students “the confidence to utilize their resources  Google and ask questions about how to start certain plants or vegetables and take the plunge.” 

Currently growing in season in the New England area are hardier crops like lettuce and kale some of which can be found at the Merrimack Garden, which is located at 27 Rock Ridge Road just behind the Nursing Center. 

In Dr. Perks’ opinion, strawberries and tomatoes when fresh are some of the best-tasting crops yielded from the Merrimack Garden. 

“Right now in class, we’re talking a lot about community and the idea of shared resources,” says Dr. Perks.

Those resources are the main focus of memoirs such as Farm City and Braiding Sweetgrass that students read each week as part of their homework and they are currently working on the grand reopening of the Merrimack College Seed Library.  

Located in the basement of the McQuade Library, the purpose of the seed library is about “sharing wisdom and the basic tools for growing something yourself in the form of seeds, really emphasizing the community feel as it is a thread throughout the course of the class each semester,” added Perks. 

While fulfilling the Arts and Literature requirement of the Merrimack curriculum, Garden Memoirs isn’t your typical class. It allows students the opportunity to literally get their hands dirty during class time spent outside in the garden. 

Current Garden Memoirs Student Sara-Jane O’Connor said she would recommend this class to other students because “it’s more hands-on than most classes making it much more interesting. We are learning about how to actually plant seeds using the knowledge we already have. While also getting to read interesting books about people’s  own experiences with  farming and gardening even in a city setting.”