A rainy spring and sunny summer have turned a special patch of campus into a bounty of Red Beefsteak tomatoes, Silver Queen corn, Chandler strawberries, Fall Gold raspberries, Giant pumpkins, and a cornucopia of other produce. Earlier this year, Cultivation Nation (also known as the St. Mark’s Garden Club) installed several small, raised beds adjacent to the Arthur Douglas Greenhouse, dedicating themselves to tending to their crops over the long hot summer and into the upcoming school year.
“Previously, our growing space was confined to only pots in one section of the greenhouse, but in the past few months, we have constructed temporary raised beds,” said Akash Munchi ’23, President of Cultivation Nation. “We grow and cultivate not only for food but also to educate and provide for others in need.”
The Garden Club was started by Akash during his freshman year and has expanded to include nearly 20 Marksmen. No previous gardening experience is required, and many members cultivate crops for the first time.
“After a few meetings, I realized, ‘Wow this gardening thing is pretty cool,’” said Thomas Goglia ’23, the club’s Co-Secretary. “So, while I still don't know much about gardening, the next logical step is to apply what I do know about gardening for a purpose.”
Cultivation Nation currently donates much of the food they grow to local food pantries. The club also focuses on educating other Marksmen about gardening and horticulture. The members even planted seeds with Lower School students this past spring. “I feel that gardening is an essential part of Lower School education as it instills a sense of responsibility,” Akash said.
The club is looking to create more beds behind the McDermott-Green Science Building to not only increase yield but improve the campus experience. “Expanding our growing space will provide a place for the club to do more demonstrations for other Marksmen,” said Arjun Badi ’23, club Co-Secretary.
Cultivation Nation is sponsored by Dan Northcut ’81, Director of Environmental Studies at St. Mark’s. “The feeling that I see in their faces when they first realize that they can actually eat produce from the plants they have grown is a wonderful expression of a primal instinct,” Mr. Northcut said. “That sense of accomplishment is on a whole different level from what video games can provide.”