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Harpeth Hall’s New Garden: A Way to Build a Community and Serve Others

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Emma Ryan, Staff Writer

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In the midst of the rising popularity of environmentalism, home gardening has become the new “trendy” thing. Growing your own garden not only provides you with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, but it also reduces your carbon footprint, lowers your grocery bill, improves your health, provides a moderate and daily form of exercise, and saves the dwindling bee population. Your carbon footprint is reduced with home gardening because most produce bought in a grocery store has been packaged in a plant and shipped thousands of miles to your hometown, so cutting out these steps by growing your own fruits and vegetables eliminates those extra, non environmentally-friendly steps. Seed packets cost less than produce purchased in a grocery store, therefore lowering the amount of money dedicated to purchasing that produce. Fruits and vegetables, especially fresh and organic ones, improve your health and provide many of the necessary nutrients and vitamins that are recommended for a healthy daily diet, and working outside in a garden provides a simple and enjoyable way to exercise. Because bees pollinate the majority of crops grown in our nation, they are crucial to human survival, and starting a garden at home gives them more opportunity to pollinate and survive. Most importantly, however, starting a home garden is a great way to build a community and stay sustainable, and the plan for Harpeth Hall’s new garden is to do just that.

The new garden was installed just behind Kirkman House at the beginning of this year. Both the school and the Sustainability Board have big dreams for this new project and plan to give SAGE Dining many of the fruits and vegetables that will be grown in the garden to incorporate in our lunches every day. SAGE has already prepared and served the bok choy that is growing in the garden, and they have used many of the herbs grown. Ms. Polly Linden, Chair of the Sustainability Board, taught a Winterim class in which the freshmen and sophomores had the opportunity to design a plan and layout for the garden. The class hosted a variety of visitors such as a landscape architect, the director of the Nashville Food Project, Tallu Schuyler Quinn, who is a Harpeth Hall alum, and alumnae Cari McDonald who is currently a farmer. The girls in the class also learned the delicate art of flower arranging and came up with plans for the garden. When asked about what she wants to see happen with the garden, senior Lia Hayduk said, “I hope Harpeth Hall uses the garden to benefit the entire Nashville community. Hopefully we can use the produce to help serve Nashville’s impoverished community.” The initial idea and goal for the garden is for it to be a community space where middle and upper school students can work together as well as teachers from differing departments. The hope is that most of this community time will take place in the spring after school when more produce is ready to be harvested.

There will also always be a part of the garden that will be used for serving others, such as using the produce to give to those who don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. When asked about what she hopes will be accomplished with the garden, Ms. Linden said, “I would love to see us partner with the Nashville Food Project and share some of what we are able to grow with people who can’t necessarily afford it.” She also said that the girls in her Winterim class voted to share 50% of the produce grown in the garden with the Nashville Food Project. Clubs such as Act Now have already made plans to help out in the garden and then use the products in some of their service projects with organizations such as Room in the Inn and Matthew 25. However, instead of giving the fruits and vegetables directly to those organizations, the plan is for students to develop recipes that incorporate the produce, prepare those recipes to be served, and give the recipes to those being served.

This garden holds many things in store for both our students and the community around us, and there are many ways for students to get involved with the garden and work together. Students can volunteer with clubs such as Act Now or simply reach out to Ms. Linden to discover other ways to work in the garden. There will be more opportunities for harvesting produce in the spring, and we encourage you to embrace these opportunities to serve others and learn about the benefits of gardening!

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Harpeth Hall’s New Garden: A Way to Build a Community and Serve Others