The first garden at Troy Howard Middle School was a pumpkin patch created by David Smith and his 6th grade students back in the mid nineties. Dave says, "as part of my commitment to 'hands on, experiential learning' I decided that our sixth grade class should grow a garden. I chose a spot that was close to the school, visible from our window on the first floor, Room 114."

Although that garden fizzled after David moved on, it was soon reborn in 2001-2002 when "The Garden Project" was officially established. Homesteader, special ed. teacher and garden wizard Don White was hired as the Garden Coordinator, while Steve Tanguay, a history teacher began envisioning the garden as a classroom and writing curriculum to connect middle school standards to the daily work of the garden. Students, teachers and community volunteers worked tirelessly to convert the hard Presumpscot clay next to the school into rich, fertile soil. Compost, leaves and seaweed were hauled in and mixed with food scraps from the cafeteria and through the alchemy of decomposition, the garden began to flourish. In the summer of 2002, a 35' x 48' greenhouse was built, extending the growing season through the cold Maine winter. The garden project was born.

In 2006, Jon Thurston was hired to create a summer garden program at THMS. "Get Growing!" provided students with the opportunity to tend the garden through the summer months. That fall, Jon was hired as the full time garden coordinator, and would continue to manage the project for the next nine years. During that time, students would build a small kitchen building complete with a cob pizza oven. They also doubled the size of the garden, which by now covered a third of an acre and provided a bountiful supply of veggies to the cafeteria.

Today, the garden continues to grow and thrive. Each year seventh graders harvest thousands of pounds of produce for their cafeteria, maintain a collection of dozens of heirloom seeds, manage a year-round greenhouse operation, produce maple syrup from trees on campus, run a seedling sale in the spring and much more. Under the direction of garden coordinator David Wessels, students are working to heat their greenhouse without fossil fuels and learning about genetics and evolution by breeding their own vegetable varieties. The living laboratory of the garden project lives on!