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Students, Flik Team Up to Grow Organic Produce

By Daniel Langhorne
Crops recently planted by students in the Sage Hill School Garden could eventually sprout organically grown produce for dishes served from the campus café.

The Garden Club and Sustainable Agriculture service-learning group, under the guidance of bioscience teacher Dr. Todd Haney, were interested in reinvigorating the garden after a long, dry summer. In September, Flik offered to contribute $1,500 toward the Garden Fund for plants, fencing and other materials.

On a recent Sage Center Day, students used hand tools to till the soil in raised garden boxes. They planted red bell pepper, cilantro, basil, chives, tomatoes, eggplant, and romaine lettuce. More planting is expected in coming months.

Senior Gabriel Tsai, who serves as president of Sustainable Agriculture Club, is passionate about helping educate his peers about the origin of the food they eat.

“I think it’s because nowadays we just go to a grocery store, and we don’t really think about where food comes from,” Gabriel said. “And when you look at it closely there are so many resources involved in growing even simple produce like tomatoes. Sustainable agriculture is a good way to appreciate how our food is grown and more resource-efficient ways of growing it.”

Haney sees great value in getting students away from their smartphones and their hands dirty in a way they might not otherwise experience.

“We’re delighted to have the generous contribution from Flik toward the first planting by our service-learning group,” Haney said. “It presents an opportunity for students to get involved in the garden and see the products of their labor in their own campus kitchen.”

Sharon Luengas, director of dining services, immediately jumped at the opportunity to incorporate student-grown vegetables into her culinary operations. She looks forward to the day her staff can serve meals that incorporate the Sage Hill Garden’s organic produce.

“If they’re already planting for service learning then it would be a win-win situation,” Luengas said. “We have the capability to buy organic, locally grown produce from our supplier, but it’s so much more expensive. How much more local can you get than walking over to the garden?”

It’s not a guarantee that Flik will serve up eggplant parmesan with fruit grown in the Sage Hill Garden anytime soon. Rabbits, squirrels and other animals regularly nibble on students’ freshly planted work. So far, some mesh barriers installed by students appear to be holding back some animals, Haney said. 

Gabriel and his peers won’t be deterred by the hungry varmints.

“You kind of have to pick up and keep going. You can’t just spray chemicals,” Gabriel said. “But if you put a lot of care and patience into it, eventually, your work pays off.”
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Sage Hill School

Sage Hill School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and athletic and other School administered programs.