EA Farms has donated 400 pounds of produce, its biggest harvest to date, to the West Chester Food Cupboard in September.
"The Upper School farm club and the Middle School farming elective classes do most of the planting and harvesting," explained farm club advisor and teacher John Dilworth. Faculty and staff also contribute as their time permits.
This year, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, garlic, carrots, basil, butternut squash, pumpkins, watermelons, beans, lettuce, and spinach thrived in the Sid Buck Community Garden. EA Farms has donated produce throughout the growing season, bringing this year's total to nearly 500 pounds.
"The farm is important because it serves as a way for kids to learn about food, soil, and health while it teaches them dedication, hard work, and allows them to serve the greater community," said Mr. Dilworth. "I am committed to the farm because learning, teaching, and growing are some of my passions and being able to pass it on to students is important and a privilege."
Senior Johnny McCormick has been involved with EA Farms since 8th grade. "I love working outside and helping the community and the whole concept of farming," shared Johnny. As one of the lead farmers, Johnny helps with planting, harvesting, and building structures in the garden.
Christian Anthopoulos '20 is also a lead farmer. "It's been great to see how the farm has evolved over the years. We are currently growing more food than ever before," said Christian. "I really enjoy the farm club and in return I get to help those who are in need. It's a win-win situation."
The garden serves as a classroom of sorts for students of all ages at EA. In the fall and spring, Lower School students spend time planting seeds and bulbs, learning how produce grows, and the role the gardens plays in the ecosystem.
Eighth grader Calvin Szoradi remembers discovering his passion for the EA garden in Kindergarten. He started participating with EA Farms last year. "I think farming is a good way to relieve stress and feel like you are doing good," explained Calvin. "After a full hour of working on the farm, I am ready for the rest of the day. I love watching the farm progress and seeing the crops grow."
This year's Lilley Fellow, Kat Harrar '21, is using the garden as the focus of her Lilley project to develop a model to provide campus-grown produce for the Tierney Dining Hall. Over the summer, Kat also worked with Horizons at EA students as they grew, harvested, and tasted new vegetables.
Students added hydrangeas, zinnias, and sunflowers to the garden this year. "We also have a grapevine, two fig trees, an apple tree, a pear tree, a nectarine tree, and a peach tree," said Mr. Dilworth.
EA Farms has been donating produce to the West Chester Food Cupboard for the last four years, donating as much as 1,500 pounds of much-needed food. Hundreds of needy families in Chester County rely of the Food Cupboard.
"This is a community effort, with students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, along with faculty and staff, who support and engage in the garden in some way," observed Mr. Dilworth. "It is because of this support that our farm has thrived and grown over the years."
"I think it is great that we are contributing to the West Chester food cupboard," said Lindsay Lee '23. "It is important for us to give back to the community and use the resources we have to help others."
In September, produce grown in the garden was also harvested and incorporated in the lunch options in the Tierney Dining Hall.