Plans for the expansion of Sage Hill School’s organic garden, which is expected to include an orchard, compost area, chicken coop and beekeeping yard, have been finalized with the landscape architect and are moving forward.
The expansion is possible after Sage Hill was recently awarded a $73,900 grant by the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. A Sage Hill senior, Spenser Apramian, wrote the grant application over summer with the help of the school’s Director of Community Life and Public Purpose, Jason Gregory.
There were 20-something pages of grant writing, Apramian said, but it was all worth it in the end.
“It was fun to reflect on how much this project has done for this school and the community,” he said.
The garden was built last year by a group of students as a service learning project and was school’s first ever on-campus organic garden.
They just met with the landscape architect and finalized the blueprints of the expansion, Gregory said.
“The next phase is for it to become a teaching and learning center,” Gregory said.
The expansion is expected to include an orchard, vineyard, various plant boxes, compost areas, chicken coop, beekeeping yard and more, Apramian said. The students will also use an aquaponic system to cultivate plants in the garden.
There will be space for educational lessons and for hands on learning, said Director of Communications and Marketing Torrey Olins.
“It’s a phenomenal program in an outdoor classroom environment,” Olins said.
Students from nearby elementary schools will be brought in to learn about organic gardening, sustainability, environmental awareness and healthy eating habits.
Sage Hill students worked Savannah’s Organic Ranch organization to create the curriculum to teach local elementary school students.
The Sage garden will also serve as a model for the elementary schools that have built or are in the process of building a garden through Savannah’s Organic Garden.
A student’s ability to plant something with their own hands, take care of it and then be able to eat it, is irreplaceable, Gregory said.
“[This garden will] expose them to something they (may) never have been exposed to otherwise,” Gregory said.
Apramian also hopes to incorporate the food grown in the garden into school menu and he has been working with the school catering company, head chef and school staff about providing organic veggies from the garden for school meals.
“They’ve all been very receptive about the idea,” he said.
The project has received great support from the community, he added, and other students have really been interested in the garden’s success.
“It’s a really exciting and amazing opportunity,” Apramian said. “The [possibilities] of this project have skyrocketed.”
They will start working on developing the larger section of the garden very soon, possibly starting on the orchard first, he said.
“It started off as nothing, just piece of land,” Apramian said. “It grew to something so big.”