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Your complete guide to Northeastern’s herb gardens

06/01/21 - BOSTON, MA: Sydney Lerner, who studies media studies and communications, right, and alum Brandon Gioggia sample herbs from the fresh garden outside of the Visitor Center on June 01, 2021. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Looking for some lunch or dinner inspiration? Northeastern’s Boston campus is home to seven culinary gardens, with 10 fresh herbs each. Here’s a helpful map to find them. And, for a little help finding the perfect pairings, Tom Barton, executive chef for Northeastern Dining, has some tips.

Tucked away among the 1,400 trees and shrubs on Northeastern University’s arboretum are an assortment of edible plants—basil, rosemary, oregano, and other fragrant herbs can be found in raised garden boxes across the Boston campus. On the map below, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of each of the locations.

The boxes, seven in all, contain 10 varieties of herbs that are ripe for the picking (or snipping, as it were): basil, calendula, chive, dill, nasturtium, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“We wanted to make fresh herbs available to anyone who wanted them, whether for cooking or just for the aroma,” said Maria Cimilluca, vice president for facilities at Northeastern.

There’s certainly an appetite on campus. Some of the most popular herbs are basil and rosemary, said Stephen Schneider, director of horticulture and grounds. In fact, rosemary is so popular that Schneider and his crew created a separate planter just for the aromatic and woody herb.

Tom Barton, executive chef for Northeastern Dining, knows a thing or two about incorporating rosemary—and other herbs—into your culinary creations. He recommends using the needle-like leaves to take lamb or chicken dishes to the next level.

Schneider says the facilities team uses a kelp-based nutrition solution to feed the plants when they begin to flag, and rotate the garden boxes to ensure they’re getting equal use around campus.

07/30/21 – BOSTON, MA – Fresh nasturtium from the culinary gardens on campus on Friday, July 30, 2021. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The herb gardens are the first step in a larger plan to facilitate a sustainable, transparent food system on campus, Cimilluca and Schneider said. They’re exploring the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and have plans to install raised community garden beds. Construction of those beds is underway, but they’ll need a group of dedicated students to tend to them.

“This is a celebration of the campus as an arboretum—we don’t want just to limit it to trees and shrubs, but to push the boundaries for edible, plant-based materials on campus,” Cimilluca said.

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