For the past four years, small groups of students (anywhere from 3-5 St. Markers) have worked in the St. Mark's Community Garden as their spring Athletic Commitment Exemption (ACE) project.
Exemplifying the School's growing commitment to sustainability, the St. Mark's Community Garden was started six springs ago, founded by School bookstore manager Ginny Umiker and Dr. Heather Harwood of the SM Classics Department. The garden is located in the northwest section of campus, at the southeast end of Barber Field.
This year Henry Hirschfeld '17, Mary Flathers '19, and Jenny Shan '19 are the SM varsity gardening team. Their goal is to serve a salad of lettuce, mixed greens and radishes to the whole school at seated meal before the end of the year. For the second year in a row, the students also spend two days a week at Southborough's Chestnut Hill Farm volunteering in their greenhouse and fields.
Interestingly, Barber Field was the location of the St. Mark's Victory Garden (shown at right)—where students grew all of the School's produce needs—during the First World War, so the placement of the current Community Garden is a nod to St. Mark's history and its legacy.
Also, during the Second World War, St. Markers volunteered to assist at local farms whose regular employee pool had been depleted by the draft (see photo at left), so today's Chestnut Hill Farm opportunity has revived that tradition from the School's past.
Today's Community Garden ACE is now complemented by the spring St. Mark's Saturdays course "The Growing Project," and a small group of self-selected students from this class help out with the garden. Recently, the Growing Project students tested the pH of the Community Garden soil. Plans are now underway to perhaps build a new fence.
During the summer, the Community Garden is tended, maintained, and harvested by a small group of volunteer faculty and staff, and all share the bounty.