The new school vegetable garden, adjacent to Booth Field, opens for the community this month after a year of planning by Sophie ‘13.
The garden, full of broccoli, tomatoes, onions and more, officially opens Oct. 8 with a ceremony led by Alice Waters, a renowned chef who promotes sustainable living and locally grown food. The garden will serve as hands-on practice in sustainable living for members of campus environmental group, The Seedlings Project, as well as for the rest of the school. Additionally, the compost collected in green bins around campus in a campaign led by Alexa‘11 will likely be used as fertilizer for the garden, though this is still in the planning stage.
Sophie first pitched the idea of a vegetable garden on campus to Laurie Brown, Director of Community Service, in fall of 2009 because she wanted to bring the school’s environmental mission statement to action.
Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard project, teaching the students of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkley, California about sustainable living and nutrition, inspired Sophie to create a vegetable garden on campus. Sophie said the garden would double as a tool to cultivate community and an opportunity for learning.
“I think it’s a fun way to have an environment outside of the classroom for students to learn in,” Sophie said.
Nick Hernandez, Director of Finance and Operations, said he approved of Sophie’s idea to use the space around the deck for such a project because it would really get across the message of sustainable living.
“It’s visible. It’s there; you can see it and you can have conversations about it. It’s a springboard for so much more,” Hernandez said.
Robert Bryan, co-head of the Environmental Committee on campus with Hernandez, said that the garden will mean so much more if active student participation keeps it moving forward.
“The success of the garden is not just getting it in. It’s about sustaining it over time through contributions of the community,” Bryan said.
Hernandez agrees with Bryan and said that it is the student body’s responsibility to sustain the garden, guided by help from the alumnae gardening group, Heartbeet Gardening.
Megan Bomba, Sara Carnochan and Kathleen Redmond — all from the class of 2002 — started the non-profit Heartbeet Gardening in 2006 to host workshops on sustainable living and vegetable gardening in urban areas. For Redmond, this non-profit organization has allowed her to achieve her own sustainability vision.
“I find it fulfilling to be a part of the steps to make food for myself,” Redmond said.
Initially based in New York, Heartbeet Gardening now operates in the greater Los Angeles area and came to the school on Sept. 13 to show members of The Seedlings Project how to plant the new garden. Every month, the alums will be stopping by to check in on the garden and to offer more workshops to help more girls learn the art of gardening.
Next year, the Caswell Scholars program, with some assistance from Sophie, plans to offer a new sustainable living class that may involve a day of working in the garden, a guest speaker and even a cooking lesson from the chefs at Café M.
How Café M will make use of the garden, if at all, is still in its planning stage, according to Hernandez.