Green in the Middle, A Salem Public Schools Garden Program

This week I was invited to visit the “Green in the Middle” garden at the Nathaniel Bowditch School, here in Salem.  The garden began as part of a garden club at the school’s former location on Federal Street. Now it’s the work of a group of middle school students and teachers who participate in an after school program during the fall and spring and a morning summer program. The participants plan, maintain and enjoy this amazing space and in the process learn about subjects in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and math).

Over the past three years the students have designed and installed many great features like this spiral stone path and the bench around the Silk tree.

There are raised beds full of flowers, herbs and vegetables! It’s beautifully done!

Many aspects of gardening are being explored.

From a simple, perfect hibiscus flower…

to a variety of heirloom tomatoes that are grown from seed in the greenhouse.

A great pumpkin plant is creeping across the yard…

and a gourd is tucked in, with morning glories for company.

I found swiss chard with cucumbers about to climb over them. This is a great idea for my garden next year!

The corn is coming right along.

I also found some beautiful pepper plants. Notice the army of watering cans in the background? Lots of work is underway here!

Colorful cement blocks decorated by students define the butterfly garden.

and beautiful decorations are everywhere!

After my visit I spoke with my friend Deborah Trammell, one of the teachers who works with the program. She described some of the educational opportunities that the garden offers this way:

 “The students designed, mapped, built, planted, studied and wrote about the garden. Some of the highlights are our composter (around the corner), increase in number of raised beds, butterfly garden against wall, spiral pathway. Many of our plants are started by seed in our greenhouse. We have many heirloom varieties of tomatoes. We have made lots of food from our plants,made bird houses, seed paper,planters …soaps, sachets, linen sprays which we have sold to raise money to donate, learned about pollinators and organic gardening, mapping, construction, fundraising and hard physical work…and so many other things” 

I’d love to see more programs like this. As a parent I have a huge appreciation of the value of gardening with children. It was exciting to visit this beautiful Salem garden where everything the garden teaches is shared and encouraged. I really believe that the world would be a better place if every child could learn from a garden!




  1. PJ Girl says:

    I wish there was this opportunity when I was at school. Fantastic initiative x


    1. me too PJ! The photos don’t really do it justice.. it’s a wonderful garden!


  2. I was really lucky to have participated in this program with all the friendly students and teachers.I learned alot about gardening.It was fun to watch the garden grow!Thank you to Ms. Medler for starting the program.Thanks to Mrs. Evans for teaching us everything we needed to know about the garden.Thanks to all the other teachers who were there to help!


    1. It’s so much fun to hear from a student who experienced this great program! Thanks for visiting and commenting Summer!


  3. Alexa Ogno says:

    Other elementary schools in Salem also have gardens. Horace Mann has an “Outdoor Classroom” run by the science teacher, Paul Kelly, and a 4th grade garden club. Bentley, with help from parent Christine Pappas and Salem Community Gardens, has a new garden in their courtyard, as does Witchcraft Heights, which plays host to a family of ducks. Carlton is cooperating with students at Salem High to work their garden and learn about cooking, financed in part by a grant from the Salem Education Foundation. Saltonstall had a presence at the Community Garden at Palmer’s Cove, and they’ve set up some boxes at their Federal Street location. They’ve also tapped some of the sugar maples at the Greenlawn Cemetery. I’m not sure what Bates is doing, but it probably won’t be long before someone there steps up to the plate.


    1. Hi Alexa and thanks for commenting! Unfortunately your comment went into my “spam” comments and I just found it now 😦 … I’d love to get to some of the other Salem School garden projects! Aren’t we lucky to live in a city that values these great programs?


  4. Great work – this is a tremendous school garden! I wanted to let you know about GEF’s $5000 grant to keep your garden growing. The deadline to apply is Sept 30 so please check it out and submit your garden’s story:


    1. thank you ! I’m going to send your information to one of the program’s teachers right away! I believe that funding is in question, this may help!


      1. Fantastic! We look forward to the application!


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