In the beginning
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, the Sprout Garden was planted next to the 360 Apartments.
The intention of the Sprout Garden was to provide the Connecticut College campus and local New London community with a practical way to learn about sustainable agriculture and living. The Sprout Garden was established to supply organic produce for dining halls on campus and as a way to network with farms in the greater New London area. In Fall 2005, the Sprout Garden celebrated its first harvest, launching the tradition of community-focused production and distribution that continues today.
The garden continues to grow
In Fall 2006, the Sprout Garden expanded from its original size of 600 square feet to 4,420 square feet. The garden also increased its capacity to include herbs, such as mint and lemon verbena teas, which were dried, bagged and sold in the College's Blue Camel Café as a fundraiser for the garden.
In 2008, Eric Dooley-Feldman '09 became president of the Sprout Garden, leading over 25 student members. A honeybee initiative, pushed by Sprout Garden 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 pollination. 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.
Finding a new home
In Fall 2011, Josh Stoffel was hired as the College's first Sustainability Officer and decided to begin working closely with the Sprout Garden to provide ongoing administrative support and guidance that the group had lacked in previous years. Merry Byrne '13 became the new president of the Sprout Garden, 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 College Center at Crozier-Williams ("Cro"). The new garden site provides 9,500 square feet of growing space,. This new garden site is in a prime location on campus to continue its tradition of student management and accessibility, as it is highly visible to both current and prospective students. Funding for the relocation of the Sprout garden came from three sources: a Steel House Sustainability Grant awarded to Merry Byrne, an external grant from the Bennack-Polan Foundation and substantial support from President Lee 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. Additionally, Azul, Zoe, Nick Luce '14, and Josh Stoffel worked together to construct the new garden site that thrives today.