The Ford School Garden

Posted on September 29, 2010


Norris Gustcott standing next to Yard Long Beans.

The long, gnarly slender green beans growing on the trellis in the Ford School community garden look familiar. Where had I seen them? A couple of miles away, in my neighborhood, the same variety festoons the chain link fence of a home on Williams Avenue. Every time I walk by, I am tempted to pick one. Now, since the Ford School community garden holds a weekly farmer’s market, I know where to pick them with a clear conscience.

“It’s an Asian variety,” Umass Psychology major Norris Gustcott informs me in the middle of my tour of the garden on a hot late summer day. Later, he shows me a bed of thyme, an herb popular with the Latino community. This is truly an international garden, reflecting the diverse population of the Highlands and Lynn.

David Gass, leader of the Highlands Coalition, came up with the idea of building the community garden on the asphalt grounds of the Ford School fronting Rockaway Street. The raised beds are watered by drip irrigation and no pesticides are needed to keep the diverse garden thriving. Now that I think about it, there must be upwards of 50 different species growing in this block-long narrow space.

“The Ford School Garden is for people in the neighborhood, especially kids,” says Gustcott, also a resident of Lynn. As a psychology major earning internship credits for his work at the garden, he is interested in changing the way kids think about food. “Eating right leads to learning right,” he says, and I agree: it’s difficult to learn anything on an empty stomach. A nutritious diet is a prerequisite to a child’s well-being.

The day before my tour, I happened to drive by the Ford School and saw David Gass along with Norris, and other summer helpers enjoying the fruits of their labor at a picnic table under a tent. David welcomed me to partake with them. I couldn’t help reading the signs that decorated the tent:

From Michael Pollan‘s Food Rules
“Eat Food
Mostly Plants
Not too much”

“Avoid food with ingredients that a third-grader can’t pronounce.”

“Try new kinds of plants, animals, and fungi, not just new foods. More diversity in species is nutritionally better.”

“We are feeding these kids bits of information,” says Gass.

A salad made exclusively from the Ford School Garden bounty

Posted in: Education