Two of the founders of Project Sprout, an organic, student-run garden on the grounds of Monument High School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts are on tour to promote the introduction of similar projects around their state. Currently visiting Martha’s Vineyard Island, Sam Levine, 15 and Sarah Steadman, 18 are sharing their story with the local Slow Food convivium, explaining how they were able to start a farm next to their high school and start providing thousands of pounds of produce to their school cafeteria.
‘The plan was simple,’ said Sam. ‘Create a student-run organic vegetable garden on school grounds, that would be used as an educational tool, provide delicious produce for the school lunches, and ultimately build connections with nature and food for the children of our district. And with that plan, along with some energy, excitement, and motivation, we began working towards our goal.’
The project began with a 3,000 square foot garden. When summer and school break arrived, the students continued to care for the garden, which had begun to produce a great quantity of food. As well as providing fresh ingredients for the school cafeteria, the garden provided over 1,000 pounds of vegetables for the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program in its first season.
Sam said that the aim was to bring students back into contact with nature, teaching students gardening skills, and to promote sustainable farming. ‘We are getting ready to triple the size of our garden, to 11,000 square feet. We want to have an orchard, and grow raspberries,’ he said.
Elizabeth Germain, leader of Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard and several other local members heard Sam for the first time at the Terra Madre meeting of food communities in Turin, Italy in October 2008, where he spoke before thousands of farmers, food producers, cooks, academics and 1000 youth delegates.
Click here to read Sam’s Terra Madre speech.