Seedling project takes root

GREEN THUMB: Sophie ’13 tends to the Sustainable Garden on Booth Field.

The Seedling Project, a student-led initiative that promotes environmental stewardship, re-planted the Marlborough School Sustainable Garden on Booth Field in October. After dedicating the Garden in Oct. 2010, the Seedling Project Action Team, which consists of students, faculty and alumnae and meets bimonthly as a club, has been regularly harvesting the Garden’s fruits, vegetables and herbs. As the Project moves into its third full school year and grapples with a lack of funding, the Team is working to make the Garden and its other environmental initiatives more fiscally sustainable.

According to Sophie ’13, founder of the Seedling Project, private donations and the School’s initial loan were invaluable to the initiative’s formative success. However, the Project has recently struggled to maintain adequate funding and resources.

“[The School is] still supporting us, but not financially. So we have to refocus on fundraising to ensure that our project will to continue to be a success,” Sophie said.

Sophie said that because the School has not been entirely forthcoming about the amount of money she must raise in order to pay off her initial loan, the fundraising process has been especially difficult.

After members of the Action Team raise enough money to pay off the loan, they will allocate funds to support the Project’s various branches, which include the nutritional education program, “Garden Buddies,” at Alexandria House—a local, transitional residence for women and children in need—and the Marlborough Composting Initiative (MCI), which partnered with the Seedling Project this year under the leadership of Elaine ’13.

The Action Team gained about 45 new members in September after participating in Club Fair for the first time. Seedling Project Secretary Sarah ’12 said that having a large group of committed active members is vital to the initiative’s long-term survival.

“This year I really want to get [the Project] tied down and focused,” Sarah said. “I want to get [younger girls] really involved in thinking about becoming leaders. I think it’s important now to get people excited about [the Project] so that they want to continue with it.”

One alumna who has been especially involved with the Project is Kathleen Redmond ’02, owner of HeartBeet Gardening, a local company that designs edible gardens. Redmond created HeartBeet Gardening along with two other Marlborough alumnae and has assisted the Seeding Project since its beginnings in 2009. In addition, Redmond taught a weekly gardening, sustainable living and healthy habits class to preschoolers at Marlborough’s Camp Mustang this past summer.

“By the end of the summer, I couldn’t tell you who felt luckier: the kids, who got to connect to their food, their garden and all its inhabitants, or myself, who got to help that happen,” Redmond said in an e-mail.

English instructor Sarah Wolf, the Seedling Project’s faculty advisor, said that the Action Team’s passion for promoting environmental sustainability motivates them to overcome the challenges it faces.

“[We’re] going back and building the foundation under [the Project] so that it can, year after year, keep growing,” Wolf said.