Students at The Greenhouse School in Salem have been taking advantage of their unique location to start a garden in memory of their Founder, Patricia Jennings-Welch, who passed away in February. "We've had gardens for years," says Assistant Director Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde, who is also Jennings-Welch's daughter-in-law. "But this time we wanted to focus on a new and expanded perennial garden to honor Ms. Welch."
The garden is taking shape in front of the small school on Loring Avenue, which serves families from infancy through eighth grade in a year-round setting. "We're even trying to restore the grass," says current Director and Welch's youngest son, Dan Welch. "Although road salt on 1A sure does a number on it."
The kids have raised vegetables for years, and their entries are consistently prizewinners at the local Topsfield Fair. "We'd like to add a memorial bench, maybe a place for kids to sit and read," says Welch. The loft in the school building, which was a functioning greenhouse years ago, is perfect for nurturing seedlings. And the gardens are largely being fed by reclaimed water, through rainwater collection from the enormous roof and groundwater pumps that keep the school dry. "I call it 'Mima's Revenge,'" says Welch. "It's the perfect tribute to a lady with the purplest thumb ever, who managed to start a school in a greenhouse on a swamp! She'd love it."
The school is collecting donations to help expand the garden, in the form of monetary gifts and plants and flowers from local growers. Those interested can contact the school through the website at http://www.greenhouseschool.org.
Also see Danny's tribute to Ms. Welch, "Ain't She a Woman!" at http://danielpwelch.com/0903asaw.htm So far in 14 languages with more to come!