In spring 2004, Alaya Morning '06, inspired by the organic garden program at Middlebury College, sought to create something similar for Connecticut College. With support from the College’s Supervisor of Grounds Jim Luce and the Arboretum office, the Sprout garden was planted next to the 360 Apartments.
The intention of Sprout was to provide the Connecticut College campus and local New London community with a practical way to learn about sustainable agriculture and living. Sprout was established to supply organic produce for dining halls on campus and network with farms in the greater New London area.
In fall 2005, Sprout had its first harvest. The vast array of organic vegetables made their way from the soil to the campus dining halls, where they were first served to the campus community.
In fall 2006, the Sprout garden expanded from its original size of 600 square feet to 4,420 square feet. The garden also increased the forms of produce it grew to include herbs, such as mint and lemon verbena teas, which were dried, bagged and sold in the College's Blue Camel Café as another fundraiser for Sprout.
In 2008, Eric Dooley-Feldman '09 became president of Sprout, leading over 25 student members of Sprout. The garden was expanded to a final 7000 square feet, allowing even more room for crops in the garden site. A honey bee initiative, pushed by Sprout members, brought 8 honeybee colonies to the north end of the garden. Stuart Woronecki, a local music professor and professional beekeeper, maintains the hives while the bees help pollinate the garden. The garden continued to produce a variety of crops in summer 2009, harvesting over 600 pounds of fresh produce by the end of the season.
In fall 2011, Josh Stoffel was hired as the first Manager of Sustainability on campus and decided to begin working closely with Sprout to provide ongoing administrative support and guidance that the group had lacked in previous years. Merry Byrne '13 became the new president of Sprout, and along with Patricia Carey, the Vice President for College Relations, and Josh Stoffel, a new era of Sprout was born. It was decided that the garden site would be moved from next to the 360 Apartments to the green right behind the the College Center at Crozier-Williams ("Cro"). The new garden site is 9,500 square feet, with over 3,200 square feet of arable space. This new garden site is in a prime location on campus, highly visible to both current and prospective students. Funding for the relocation of the Sprout garden came from three sources: a Student Sustainability Grant awarded to Merry Byrne, an external grant from the Bennack-Polan Foundation and substantial support from President Higdon.
In summer 2012, the summer garden managers, Azul Tellez '15 and Zoe Lynch '15, maintained the old garden site next to 360 Apartments and sold the produce to Harris Dining Hall. The plans for the new garden site were proposed to the Garden Advisory Committee, consisting of Patricia Carey (Vice President for College Relations), Josh Stoffel (Sustainability Manager), Jim Luce (Head of Grounds), Page Owen (Botany Professor and Chair of the Botany Department), Kristin Geshel (Faculty Grants and Government Relations Officer) and Glenn Dreyer (Director of the Arboretum). After the plans were approved, Zoe and Azul, Nick Luce ‘14 and Josh Stoffel built the fence for the new garden behind Cro.
Check out the Sprout blog for more recent updates!
A special thanks goes out to all of the members of Sprout who have made organic gardening at Connecticut College possible, including:
Alaya Morning '06
Ben Tressler '05
Anne Lind '06
Anna Meyer '07
Misha Johnson '08
Cara Donovan '08
Merry Bryne '13
Zoe Lynch '15
Azul Tellez '15