Hydrangeas Create a Lasting Connection

Written and Photos by: Kaitlyn Foley

My Nana’s House
Photo from Google Maps, September 2011

Ever since I was a baby, my family and I always spend a portion of our spring and summer in Falmouth Heights, Massachusetts, which is part of Cape Cod.  My nana and my grandfather, my father’s parents, bought a house on the Cape many years ago. I have created some of my favorite memories here, which include spending quality time with my family, talking walks along the beach, admiring the plants and growing my love of photography.

One of my favorite flowers found all over Cape Cod, and in my nana’s yard are hydrangeas.  I love them because they add a pop of color and they remind me of my grandfather.  Hydrangeas can range from red, pink, purple, blue, and white, however their color all depends on the acidity of the soil in which the plant grows.  A pH scale, which goes from zero to fourteen with seven being neutral, is used to determine how acidic the soil is.  If soil has a pH level greater than 7 it would produce pink hydrangeas, while a pH level less than 7 would produce blue hydrangeas. In other words, the lower the pH, the more acidic the soil is. If an individual wishes to change the color of their hydrangeas from pink to blue they can easily do so by increasing the acid in the soil. Some home remedies include, adding vinegar or lemon juice to the soil, mulching the area around the plant with coffee grounds, or even burying rusty nails or copper pennies in the soil.

My love of hydrangeas increased my love of gardening and flowers in general.  When I was younger, I would help my father garden and keep the lawn on my nana’s property in healthy condition, and it eventually turned into an activity that strengthened our bond.  My grandfather passed away before I was born, but he took pride in his lawn and plants.  After he died, my father took on the role of tending to the yard, which was later instilled in me.  Pulling weeds, planting new flowers, trimming bushes, trees and much more made me feel closer to my dad, but also my grandfather as well.  Even though I did not get to meet my grandfather, I feel a connection to him by gardening the land he bought and worked hard for. Knowing that I am tending to the same hydrangeas he once did gives me the satisfaction of feeling like he is a part of my life and I am part of his.  

The Farm Down The Street

Fairmount Fruit Farm located in Franklin,Massachusetts has been in operation since 1920. In 1920 James Koshivas came to America from Greece and purchased the farm from an industrialist in Worcester named Morse. Morse had owned the property for many years prior to James purchasing the land. James Always had the passion and vision of growing the farm into a large apple producing orchard while making a living for his now growing family. Now 90 years later the third, fourth and fifth generation are carrying on the vision that began so long ago by a young immigrant who moved from Greece all the way to America by him self. The farm today is still filled with 20+ acres of apple, peach as well as pear tree’s. The Farm is open year round offering a variety of fresh produce, free range eggs, dairy products, baked goods and also other products made by other local vendors. The Farm also stays very active in the community by providing classes such as “Farmers In Training” which is a summer program that takes place for 6 weeks each summer for kids ages 8-12 that teaches them all there is to know about how a farm works and operates that grows food for the public. Other classes are offered such as Goat yoga, Animal Tales and Kids in the Kitchen. The Farm is a special place for myself. Growing up just 5 minutes down the road from the farm and my father being good friends with owners of the farm I spent many days as a child running around the biggest and coolest playground a 5 year old could ever dream of. From hay rides on the tractor, to going apple picking, to late night trips for apple cider donuts in the fall, Fairmount has always been the secret spot in town for myself.

Crops rebound after drought-plagued 2016, farmers say - News - Milford  Daily News - Milford, MA
Fairmount Fruit Farm’s Charles Koshivas with a 20-bushel of Honey Crisp apples, Summer of 2020

If you ever find your self hanging around Franklin Massachusetts and wanna stop by a place that does it all feel free to stop by Fairmount Fruit Farm Located at 887 Lincoln Street Franklin ,MA 02038

The Farm Stand, Taken on a beautiful sunny summer day in 2019

Written By: Cam Casella

My Grandmother’s Compost Pile

Every summer when I was younger, I would make a trip up to my grandmother and grandfather’s cottage in Guilford, Connecticut. The cottage was in a secluded part of the suburban town surrounded by marshes overlooking the Long Island Sound. My grandmother or “Ma”, as we called her, was an avid gardener and very caring for the environment. She was also big in composting which she did to lower our carbon footprint and use the soil for her garden. She had two separate bins for standard trash and compost which I learned a lot about what actually goes into them.

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My grandparents cottage in Guilford, Connecticut

After every meal, Ma would carefully look over our plates and tell us what bin our food scraps would go into. After breakfast, she would be careful to throw the egg shells in the compost bin while throwing out any egg or dairy scraps in the trash. She did this as dairy scraps and other fats or oils attract raccoons and rats to the compost pile. 

How to Compost Food Scraps
An example of what my grandmother’s compost bin looked like

On top of other organic scraps that get composted like vegetables, coffee grounds, banana peels and fruit cores, I learned about other things that can be composted that I never thought could be. I remember back when I was staying over their cottage in the summer of 2009, my grandfather was reading the newspaper at the table over breakfast. As he finished reading the newspaper, he closed it up and gave it to my grandmother who ripped it up and tossed it into the bin. I was actually pretty shocked about the things that were biodegradable as she would also throw cardboard into the bin as well.

10 Items You Should Never Add To Your Compost Pile | Greener Ideal
An example of what my grandmother’s compost pile looked like

She always managed the compost bin with a great deal of care. At the end of the day, she would take the bin into the backyard and throw all the scraps into our big compost pile which was a big combination of soil and other decomposing material with an earthy smell to it. While Ma is no longer around to continue managing the compost pile, I always wanted to continue the practice of my own when I had my own apartment or house. She taught me so much about composting and I know she would love it if I continued to do it when I had the resources.

Jeff Joslyn March 8, 2021

My Second Home

Written by Mike Patterson

My form of gardening is much different than what most people would consider gardening. Most people when they think of gardening have a little spot where they plant flowers or grow fruits and vegetables but what I consider my garden is something so much more. All my life I have been playing baseball and the great game has taught me so many life lessons that I didn’t even know. I never thought that sports and gardening could be connected but the more I thought about it the more I realized that gardening has had a major influence on my life without me even knowing. With everything in life everyone wants to take pride in their home and that is no different with our home field. We as a team always wanted other teams to show up to our field and be in awe of how well kept it was and how nice it looked because there is nothing better than a well kept field, look at Fenway Park for example. People go there every year for the pure beauty of it. We wanted to do the same with ours as well. At the time I never even considered what I was doing to be gardening until the more I thought about it. I always just looked at it as the teatius tasks that had to be done after a long practice but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it was in fact gardening. As players it was our job to water the field, take care of the dirt, fill in holes that the New England weather created, and even plant some grass seeds in areas that were losing its grass. Since maintenance did not want to take the time to do it we as players felt it was our responsibility to maintain the field and make it presentable for our opponents. We even planted some flowers around the field to make it pop even more. I realized that not only did baseball teach me lessons but the gardening and the maintenance that took place after all those practices taught me something as well. I believe that it taught me how to be more disciplined and how to take pride in my work because everyday we were working on the field after practice. Although it is not the traditional form of gardening looking back I realized that sports and gardening can be interconnected and teach people valuable lessons. 

Plants Provide More than Just a Pretty View!

Written By: Alexandria DiPerri

Photo By Me

I am sure everyone has seen the trend of hanging up a eucalyptus plant over their shower head! Some people know exactly what is going on here as in the steam from the shower helps release oils from the eucalyptus which can clear nasal congestion or any sinus inflammation…but for those of you that didn’t know here are some other examples of plants that provide a pretty view AND some health benefits!

You can find more information on other plants and their benefits here: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-houseplants


Peace Lily

Allergies can be tough to handle, and it is not always ideal taking so much medication. For those that love plants they can actually help! Low-light house plants like Chinese Evergreen or the Peace Lily have leaves and other parts that act as natural filters which can catch allergens or other particles within the air. Researchers found that overall, rooms with plants have less dust and mold as opposed to rooms without plants!


Spider Plant

As for illness, furnaces and air conditioners tend to sap the humidity inside. Switching to a spider plant can provide more moisture into the air-especially during the dry winter months-this can prevent catching the flu or a nasty cold. It also helps prevent your skin from getting so dry and itchy!

Air Purifiers

English Ivy

Don’t buy an air purifier, invest in an English Ivy, Asparagus Fern, or a Dragon tree! These plants can soak up volatile organic compounds that are released into the air. Carpet, cleaners, paint and even printer toners and inks pollute the indoors with all of these compounds. If they build up it can irritate your eyes, skin, worsen asthma and even make it more difficult to breathe!



Stomach issues such as bloating, gas, or other irritation after eating can be bettered through mint or basil, especially if you steep the leaves in hot water!



Lavender is a pretty commonly known plant, but did you know that they have been used as important herbal medicine for centuries? Inhaling it, or, applying it to skin and scalp as an oil is considered aromatherapy. Boiling the leaves for tea is also effective; it has been shown that Lavender can help lower stress or anxiety.

First Aid

Inside of Aloe
Aloe Plant

As most people are aware, Aloe can be easily applied to sun burns or other minor burns. And NO we don’t just mean the aloe you buy in a bottle! Aloe plants hide the aloe within themselves as shown in the picture. Aloe plants can also help soothe irritating psoriasis and other skin related conditions.


Gerbera Daisies

Photosynthesis is the process in which plants take in carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen using sunlight, however, Gerbera Daisies continue to provide oxygen even after the sun goes down! Putting these in your room can help provide more oxygen which in turn results in a better sleep. As a college student that sounds pretty good to me!

Haitian Independence Day and “Soup Joumou”

Written by Jerry Pierre

January 1st might seem like a normal day for other people., aside from it being the first day of a new year, but as someone from Haitian descent, it holds a lot more meaning. On January 1st 1804, the country of Haiti would gain independence and liberate themselves from French colonial rule. Centuries later, Haitian people worldwide still celebrate this victory. This landmark date is celebrated in many ways, but there is one way of celebration that is a staple in Haitian culture, and that is the eating of “Soup Joumou” or “Squash soup” as it is called in English.

Now, even though this dish is very well-known in the Haitian community, I still would consider it a family recipe. Though we may not be blood related, I see my fellow Haitian people as my brothers and sisters, no matter how much of a stranger they are. Now, you’re probably wondering how the soup is made. Well my family, and I’m sure lots of other Haitian families, use organic home-grown ingredients to make this dish. Obviously, the most important ingredient is Squash. Last year my mother, who cooks it every year for my father and I, used organic squash which is what I prefer since it improves the soup incredibly. Other organic ingredients we use are cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, and corn. The only non-organic ingredients we put in the soup are beef and macaroni. Waking up and drinking this soup with bread on the side is something I look forward to every new years day. My mother sometimes loves to share some soup with my upstairs neighbor, who is also Haitian, and sometimes vice-versa. Same with her other Haitian friends too. I love checking on my social media to see my friends who are not of Haitian descent try the soup. It’s amazing that food can bring so many people together. It feels good to be part of a culture with such a rich tradition. In conclusion, I hope this blog post inspires more and more people from other ethnicities and backgrounds to learn more about this tradition, and maybe try to make their own soup too!

Our Garden On Cape Cod by Amanda N.

As an aspiring environmental scientist and policy maker, nature has always held a strong hold in my day to day life in one way or another. Ever since before I could walk, my parents have had a house on Cape in the town of Yarmouth which further cemented the roots of my love for the outdoors. We are a three minute lengths’ walk to the beach, and a ten minute drive to the local park and bike trail, allowing my childhood to have been filled with ‘the best of both worlds’. As you may imagine I was very ecstatic when I discovered the course Garden Memoirs here at Merrimack College seeing as it incorporated two main things that I love: gardens and reading! My mother and father have always made a point to tend to our gardens in both the front and back yards of our summer home. Over the years we have planted fairy roses, hydrangeas, ‘butterfly plants’ which attract Monarch’s to our garden every year, geraniums, and inpatients. As a kid and still to this day I’ve always enjoyed watching the butterflies flutter around the mini ecosystem we created while sitting on the grass in the sun. 

Though gardening can be viewed as an individual activity in some ways, I’ve found through both my own personal experiences as well as through reading Farm City that it does in fact also possess an element of community and ‘socialness’. At our local Mahoney’s, which is essentially a gardening shop with plants galore, my mom and I always run into fellow neighbors and gardeners alike on our trips there. Another instance would be on sunny, summer days when people walk past our home on their way to the beach many people in our association stop by and talk to my parents about our front yard garden and its aesthetic. 

Gardening of all kinds is a great way to spend time with your family and friends outdoors, as well as a great way to give back to your landscape. By creating a garden of flowers and or vegetables, you start to notice different types of insects and creatures that find comfort and homes within the mini world you’ve handmade. We notice a lot of baby bunnies sleeping in the shade of our rose bushes, butterflies as I previously mentioned, and plenty of pollinators such as bumblebees that spend their days bouncing from petal to petal all within the confines of our very own front yard. When I have a home of my own, I fully intend on having a garden like the one my parents have as it has provided me with so much more than just a pretty, aesthetic view.

A Holistic Life

Written and Illustrations by Aleda Collins

Holistic medicine aims to treat the entire body, mind, and soul as opposed to strictly treating symptoms. Holistic philosophies are centered around the idea that everything is interconnected. With these two definitions alone, it can be argued that holistic beliefs are those that are beneficial to the entirety of a situation. And if that’s the case, a holistic approach to life might be worth a shot.

The difference between a holistic philosophy and a holistic lifestyle is only the matter of taking action based on the ideas about everything in the Earth and Universe being connected. As humans, I believe that we long for connection. With people, pets, passions, whatever the case may be; we want this interconnectedness with the Earth so that we are able to feel purpose, and I want that connection to be a good one.

Aside from eating less meat and using less plastic, the opportunities to live a holistic lifestyle are overflowing in your backyard. That’s right, a single plot of land can offer its nutrients to supply ingredients for holistic remedies, household cleaners, perfume, and of course snacks. This is a great tool for people that want to have a positive connection with their environment, but can’t separate from meat products just yet. There are so many simple recipes that make such a huge difference to the health of our planet and ourselves. Here is one of my favorites for an all-purpose household cleaner that not only kills germs safely, but smells amazing:

Illustration by Aleda Collins
  • One part white vinegar
  • One part water
  • Lemon (or other citrus) rinds
  • Rosemary

Combine these ingredients and let rest for about a week before using on kitchen counters, glass, sinks, garbage cans. Tip: avoid using on granite

Seed Savers Exchange

Written By: Joshua Dennehy

Seed savers Exchange is an organization from Decorah Iowa that connects thousands of home gardeners, farmers and many more through the worlds largest exchange open to all. Seed Savers Exchange collect, store and regenerate rare heirloom seeds. These seeds are collected so that they can be preserved and grown the right way. With proper education Seed Savers Exchange want everyone to have the same option to grow rare heirloom seeds. While doing so, this is to help educate all types or famers or gardeners, then distribute to gardeners everywhere. Everyone from all over will be able to grow such rare seeds.

Photo from “Seed Savers Exchange”

Organizations that are here to educate young and eager gardeners are such a big part of society. Without true education people would not know how to plant and harvest rare seeds. Seed Savers Exchange is crucial to all gardeners because they inform you about how to preserve and seed save. Not wasting seeds is what will help the environment. The youth need to understand the right way to plant a seed then when the crops are ready harvest while saving seeds as well. Programs like these want to help exchange many types off seeds for everyone to use. Teaching not only kids but young adults, will help change the outlook on seed saving.

Photo from “Seed Savers Exchange”

Seed Savers Exchange program can develop such education in farm towns that needs it. Anyone who looks into there website to gather information on how to plant seeds the right way or even save seeds will learn valuable information. Information that can help the environment and especially creating healthier crops. Seed Savers Exchange is another organization that wants to educate and help many communities.

Check “Seed Savers Exchange” website below to learn more.


Love and Carrots

Written By: Joseph Jorgenson

Love and Carrots is an organization located in Washington D.C that provides, installs, and teaches people how to tend to Gardens. It is a non-profit organization that helps less fortunate communities in many ways. One of them is growing their own produce in a healthy and natural way so that people don’t have to buy it from a grocery store. Another way “Love and Carrots” helps to better the community is it aims to keep kids off the streets and gives them a hands on learning experience that will teach them valuable skills to better themselves and their community.

Photo From: “Love and Carrots website”

Programs like “Love and Carrots” are so crucial for spreading knowledge of gardening while also helping less fortunate youth population. These programs are so crucial to inner-city neighborhoods because of the lack of “green space” in cities as well as the stereotype of inner-city behavior of these kids. It is so important to find these kids meaningful and healthy activities to participate in. By giving valuable lessons on how to tend to these gardens, it spreads loves and distracts inner-city kids from the troubling world around them.

From “Love and Carrots” website

Non-profit urban gardening companies are vital to the development of healthy foods as well as healthy behaviors in the community. If everyone had a garden to tend to it would help the community in varies ways. “Love and Carrots” is just one of many companies looking to better the community and the future.


Above is the website for “Love and Carrots”. Give it a look.