Personal produce gardens are making a comeback this year, and schools such as Eaglebrook and Hotchkiss are quick to pick up on the trend. Following in the footsteps of present and past First Ladies Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt, more people are taking an active role in the effort to go green. More groups of people are giving time and labor to their household gardens, and Deerfield Academy, is among them.
Director of Food Services Florrie Paige explained that Deerfield’s own herb and vegetable garden is currently germinating in the South Dining Hall Room under a grow light, until better weather. When the weather is warmer and sunnier, staff members will relocate the plants to the campus greenhouse behind Johnson-Doubleday.
Sous Chef Todd Brooks’ own summer garden was Deerfield’s inspiration to cultivate a garden. It is a joint effort between the Dining Hall Staff and the Community Service Board, and maintenance of the garden will be a community service co-curricular option next year.
Head of School Margarita Curtis added, “We have the best food in the prep school world, and now we are going to have our own fresh herbs and vegetables served on the same day they are picked.”
Ms. Paige also feels optimistic about the outcome of the garden, “Students can now be involved in the production of the food that they eat, and staff can interact with students on that level.”
The Dining Hall has always prided itself on its preservative-free food. With the help of the garden, it can ensure that neither herbicides nor pesticides taint the vegetables grown. Most of the work will occur in the summer and the students who attend the summer KIPP Program on campus will consume the garden’s produce. “Most of these kids are from the city,” said Ms. Paige, “They have no idea where their food comes from, so this will be good exposure.”
Kristan Bakker, Environmental and Sustainability Coordinator, is excited at the prospects of the garden. “This is going to help students be more aware of their impact on the environment and let them know what carbon footprint is responsible for the food they eat.” She revealed that there has been an international push to eat local over eating organic. “So that you know just how your food is grown.” “Gardening is great therapy,” said Mrs. Bakker, “You plant the seeds and see the fruit of your labor materially.”