“The darker the raspberry the sweeter it is.” “Slugs like lettuce.” Such were the answers to the question “What did you learn today?” posed to Epiphany School students spending the month of July on the Circle during a few of their evenings in the Groton Garden Group’s community garden. Tucker Smith P ’05 and resident master gardener offered her time to the Epiphany School program to introduce the skills of gardening to a handful of seventh and eighth graders, many of whom had never been in a garden before.
Some students came in the evening, choosing gardening over a trip to the pool or other evening activities. They learned how to rescue plants (aka weeding), to harvest lettuce for the Dining Hall, and to plant tomato and pepper seedlings provided by staff member Nancy Calawa. They even went on a field trip to visit a local farmer who runs an eight-family CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) right down Farmers Row. At David Luther’s farm the six students were able to see Hereford cattle and pigs up close and see how a larger farm works.
A member of the Groton Garden Group and a long-time volunteer at Epiphany School, Tucker saw an opportunity to connect the Epiphany students with the garden project. Summertime is always a challenge for the community garden as members of the group often live well beyond the Circle and it is difficult to get a steady stream of volunteers to tend to it. Once School is back in session the Dining Hall will utilize the produce, but it is a long time from June to late August. The partnership between the Epiphany students and the community garden was a win-win. In addition to learning a bit about vegetable gardening, a few students dabbled in the art of making flower arrangements for the Epiphany Chapel services held in St. John’s Chapel.
The community garden initially began as part of a Faculty Sponsored Activity four years ago and has evolved over the course of the last few years to incorporate students, faculty, parents, and staff into the Groton Garden Group. The group has partnered with local famers including Mr. Foster and Stephen Corrigan ’00, and last spring they hosted a screening of the documentary Fresh for the larger Groton community. They are working with Jed Coughlin, the School’s Dining Services Director and parent of Carrie ’12, to connect to more locally sourced produce, a point of pride with the Dining Hall staff.
As Tucker Smith notes and the Groton Garden Group is trying to leverage, Groton School is blessed with so many natural and human resources that connecting the local farmers, to an energized School community has the potential of many harvests to come.