Students who choose the gardening activity in the fall have the opportunity to harvest the summer crop that is lovingly tended by resident faculty and administration during the summer, then re-plant a seasonal crop in the school’s own greenhouse. When the activity returns in the spring, students prepare for the growing season and finish the trimester just in time to see their plants burst into bloom. Tucked away on the outskirts of the fields and forest that surround Phelps, the greenhouse boasts four irrigated planting rows and adjoins an open-air garden.
Fresh produce from the greenhouse and garden goes directly into the school’s dining hall and onto the plates of the students in various dishes prepared by the Culinart chefs. Students also donate yield from the garden to local charities and food banks.
“We had a riot of peppers this year,” notes Ms. Rupp, who works in school administration but also supervises the gardening activity. “And you should have seen the kale!” Administrative staff can often been seen on campus contributing to the school community by leading afternoon activities. “It’s a great way to stay connected. I talk with a lot of these boys and their families as they enroll at Phelps, and then I have an opportunity to work alongside them in the garden.” Ms. Rupp says.