Rose Esselstyn ‘17 gets her hands dirty.
For over 400 hours this spring and summer Rose planted, weeded, watered the community garden located behind the cafeteria near Boulevard. What was once an obscure idea inspired by attending the Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki last semester, has now bloomed into a sunny, green patch of 24 raised beds brimming with peppers, squash, tomatoes, kale, beets, herbs and vibrant zinnias and daisies.
Rose’s vision of Red KOw Farm, so named for the soon-to-be erected red ceramic cow that will stand guarding the garden, took form after her semester with limited wi-fi and technology. Every morning she and her classmates worked on the farm, and all the classes were centered on the environment. “I kept thinking, how could I translate my experience into something tangible? My idea for this garden is an attempt to bring back that serenity I experienced there, and to develop a stress free and technology free zone.”
Developing the garden as a food source was secondary to Rose’s goal of creating community. “We’re nurturing this piece of land together. The garden brings people together in a pure, real way in a world that is very technology driven. I’m hoping that the garden unites people.”
So far Rose has united a small team of dedicated staffers who helped bring her concept to fruition. She met with administrators who green lighted the idea after she submitted a proposal and schema for the garden.
“I reached out to Mrs. Baily who was so ecstatic about it. Mr. Goodman, Mr. Marciano, Mr. Gilyard were all behind it. Mr. Woerlen from Sage Dining took the idea and ran with it. The garden brings new meaning to food. He picks fresh herbs and uses them in our meals, “said Rose of Mr. Woerlan’s involvement.
Even local neighbors have stopped by to see how they can rent a bed to cultivate. Rose intends to start an after school club for the garden, and as it matures she hopes that some of the harvest can go to a local food bank. Since Rose is a senior, she wants others in the community to take up her initiative. “I’m not sure that the kids totally get it. They haven’t gotten the satisfaction yet of using their hands. With time and involvement, they’ll get it. People will be excited to eat what they’ve grown.”
For more information on how to get involved contact esselstyn.r.17@kingswood oxford.org.