TEWKSBURY — Students from Tewksbury Memorial High School’s Environmental Club have been busy this spring participating in a quarantine-inspired program called QuaranGreen.
Developed by Burlington High School junior Matt Tengtrakool, students are potting lettuce plants, caring for them, and delivering them to Tewksbury residents. The plants inspire people to have a routine during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as eat healthy and inspire gardening and community.
“All of our plants come with an instruction packet that outlines how to find ways to eat healthy during the pandemic, how to reduce stress, and how to continue to expand upon and build a garden,” said Tengtrakool via email.
The idea has taken off and the program is working in 25 communities in Massachusetts. Tewksbury residents have embraced the program, which is beautiful in its simplicity.
“Lettuce plants are great because you can eat them continuously as they grow and they just water it and can pick off the outer leaves as the plants mature,” said Tengtrakool.
Tengtrakool shared that students and adults alike are helping in town. Hannah Kocsmiersky, Juliana Ricci Tierney Trant, Madelyn Caliendo, Kerry Gibson, Ada Nicodemus, Abigail Yaing, Aidan Crawson, and Mollie Steinhoff, among others, are all working with the program, collecting plants from Tengtrakool in Burlington and bringing them home to pot, water and print out instructions for each recipient.
Participants are encouraged to map a delivery route for efficiency. As of early June, QuaranGreen is reaching 25 towns across eastern Massachusetts and has given out plants to close to 2,000 households, with the help of over 100 volunteers.
The effort has been awarded five grants by various state and national organizations to help kickstart the project, which only began in early March. Parent Suzanne Caliendo observed the effort as “a large random act of kindness… which spread out like a spider web.”
TMHS junior Kocsmiersky is a coordinator for Tewksbury.
“It’s really fun and it is good to see people happy,” she said.
Even though the delivery of the plants is contact-free, Kocsmiersky has encountered some of her recipients from a distance who are quite elated when their plant arrives. Her mom, Jen, helps with the transportation and the driving route around town.
“It can take over an hour; Tewksbury is big,” the TMHS junior noted.
The organization just launched a new website, www.quarangreen.org and is a central location for volunteering or signing up to receive plants. Responses from the community have been very positive; people are smiling and are inspired to get into gardening.
The effort has received several grants in a few short months including from The Pollinator Project, Peace First, The New England Grassroots Fund, Karma for Cara, and the APA Power of Youth Challenge.
The Twitter account shows how the numerous volunteers are getting out into the community. There’s been a great response from Tewksbury both for signs up for lettuce plants and for volunteers to deliver them.
If you’d like to receive a lettuce plant, visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfJRvlQuHMpAk5iBttdFj0FiN6k0TibEjCsSpgDjPL_WeLE5Q/viewform.