This is a guest post from Katie LaScaleia from Lincoln-Sudbury High School in Massachusetts.
Our Action Team has undoubtedly accomplished a lot over the past few years in Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School and our community in terms of recycling, energy conservation, and environmental awareness. Yet every time we’ve completed a project, even though the students did most of the work, we couldn’t deny the help we needed from our club advisors in seeing the project through to the end.
Then a local gardener came to a club meeting with the suggestion of having a group of dedicated students tend to a 30’ x 30’ garden plot at our community gardens and donate the resulting produce to the food pantry. The gardener insisted that we would have minimal adult support making this the first completely student-run project our Action Team has ever done.
We didn’t think we would be able to pull it off. We knew next to nothing about growing plants, building a fence, paying for it, or working on this project during the summer.
We decided to go for it.
Our first order of business was to research the food we were going to grow. Each of us chose a plant and became an expert on it. We drew a map of our plot based on which plants needed sun or preferred shade and whether each grew better in a cluster or worked better solo.
This was still in early spring, so some members volunteered to start the plants at home so they would be ready to go in the ground by the time the danger of frost had passed.
As we began to purchase the materials necessary for the garden (seed packets, fencing, various stakes, cages and trellises for the plants) the costs began to rack up, and we knew we would need a way to finance the project.
We received several sources of funding. We were awarded a starter grant from ACE, a grant from our school’s Environmental Club, and, with ACE’s support, the Cabot Healthy Living Matching Grant offered through Cabot Creamery. Finally, we were ready to begin our garden.
We split ourselves into 3 garden teams of 4-5 students each. On a rotational schedule, we ensured that the garden was watered and tended to every day. As a result, in our first harvest we donated 29 pounds of lettuce!
We were motivated by our results and continued to work at the garden to increase our yield.
We’re not going to pretend that every day went smoothly. There were hot days and days that we scrambled to make sure someone went to the garden. The water pump broke for most of the summer. There were several times where weeds nearly took over and picked produce sat around for days before it was taken to the food pantry.
In the end, our project was a complete success. Through ample communication, holding others accountable, and sacrificing time to do what we had to do, we were able to grow 268 pounds of food to donate to the hungry in our community.
Thanks to ACE, were we able to help our community and the environment while gaining the skills and confidence to tackle climate change this coming year and for years to come.
Because of this success, any notion we had before that high school kids couldn’t make a difference completely disappeared that summer.