Medomak Valley heirloom garden opens for tours
Waldoboro — Students, teachers, parents and visitors gathered at Medomak Valley High School for Open Garden Day Saturday, Sept. 28.
The day was set aside for school gardens around the state to open their doors to the public.
The day featured pizza cooked in the school's new earth oven, made of sand and mud, and a tour of the horticulture program's gardens and classroom space. The tour was led by Neil Lash, who teaches horticulture and anatomy at the school. Among the visitors was a group of education students from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor.
Also on view was the newly erected timber frame for the program's Francis G. Cross Heritage Center, named for a former Medomak Valley assistant principal, and the horticulture program's Living History Arboretum.
The trees in the arboretum are descended either from trees that were present when a historic event took place, or from trees that are presently growing on a historic site. For example, there is a sycamore descended from one of two sycamores planted in Princeton, N.J., to commemorate the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766.
The tour included the arboretum and the vegetable gardens, which contain a variety of heirloom and historic plants. One plant of local interest is the Waldoboro Green Neck rutabaga, grown from seeds descended from plants brought to Waldoboro by German immigrants in the 18th century.
The garden also has several vegetables of South American origin, including caihua from Peru, which Lash said is also known as stuffing cucumber, because it is often stuffed with meat and other fillings before cooking. Also from Peru is the edible canna lily, yacon and oca, which has small, potato-like tubers, Lash said.
The horticulture program, which started as part of the shop program, is now a science elective. Lash incorporates history through heirloom seeds; for instance, he has beans descended from those grown by Native Americans along the Trail of Tears and corn preserved on the cob in the Native American manner.
Lash will give a talk as part of this year's Camden Conference at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Medomak Valley auditorium. The event is open to the public.
Sarah E. Reynolds is a reporter for the Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, hike and play word games.
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