The Horticulture Program provides our students the opportunity to contribute to High Mowing’s own gardens. Brad Miller, horticulture teacher, guides students in the daily activities involved in a sustainably designed food-shed. An emphasis is placed on developing responsive capacities in the garden and within a community. The students also learn to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of a biologically diverse ecosystem. In Horticulture the students learn to listen and observe with the heart. When they see the results of their labor in the gardens they understand what effect their care and devotion has on the earth, their neighbor, and themselves.
The students quietly listen to the varied songbirds that inhabit our fields and perch in our gardens. They observe the thousands of wild and domesticated pollinators gathering nectar from our planted wildflower borders. They map and plan experimental annual and perennial garden beds. They use their hands and backs, in sunshine and in rain, rake, hoe, weed and sing to the plants that our culinary arts program processes and prepares in the Dining Hall. Then, taking all of the remains of plants, peelings, table scraps, collected forest litter (leaves and wood), along with rock dust hammered from our glacial deposits, they create powerful and dynamic compost. They ponder together the right relationship with our landscape, and articulate in conversations and writing how to become land stewards for the 21st century.
We do not plant a row of carrots and a few flowers; we plant a full, functioning garden that supplies our own kitchen with thousands of pounds of produce each year. Students are active in every part of the process, planning and mapping the beds, planting the seeds, thinning the seedlings, weeding and hoeing, composting, and finally gathering and storing. We even save our own seeds to be used the following year. Students learn to understand and appreciate the delicate and complex relationships among plants, birds, insects, and weather.