As students acclimate to a new environment on campus during COVID-19, Science Teacher Mark Teutsch and community service members seek to raise awareness about the Deerfield Academy Greenhouse, its offerings, and its potential for strengthening our community.
This fall, students in the community service co-curricular have prepared cedar boxes for seeding and have begun planting botanicals. Students have also enjoyed meeting new members of the community by working in the greenhouse.
When asked about her favorite aspect of working in the Greenhouse, Chieu An Duong ’22 said, “I really enjoyed getting to know new people.”
During an unorthodox school year, working in the Greenhouse has already begun to improve students’ morale. “Being in nature really helps to relieve me from all the stress of junior year,” Duong explained.
Although restrictions on how many students can be in the Greenhouse at once have slowed the production rate of botanicals and produce, members of the Deerfield community believe the Greenhouse and what is produced there can still be used to raise spirits on campus.
Additional activities students have done in the past as a part of the Greenhouse co-curricular, known as Growing Green, include collecting spinach for the Dining Hall and harvesting honey from the apiary on top of the Koch Center.
Lorraine Peoples ’21, who participated in Growing Green, said, “I enjoyed the honey collecting the most. I was able to collect honey and share it with friends on the hall.”
In the past, the Greenhouse has had large enough quantities of produce to contribute to the selection at the Dining Hall, but with changes in the meal system this year, it will be difficult to meet their needs. Teutsch said, “I want to get produce out to community members who are interested in eating healthy.”
With limited meal options this year, distributing fresh produce from Deerfield’s own backyard to the community is an innovative way to make use of the Greenhouse’s resources.
There are plans to find an outlet for botanicals as well. Teutsch explained, “Flowers make a difference in peoples’ lives…what I’d really love to have help with is simply having students identify people in need that would benefit from our distribution of flowers.”
Students in Teutsch’s first and second period AP Biology classes have spent time in the Greenhouse as well. As the ability to perform in-class experiments has become increasingly difficult due to COVID-19 regulations, being able to work in the Greenhouse has allowed students to still have hands-on experiences in the class curriculum.
Emily Feng ’22 said, “Going to the Greenhouse was our first hands-on experiment in Teutsch’s class. It was really cool to talk about the process of anaerobic fermentation when we made kimchi because although we could not see it, the process was happening right before us. ”
As well as making kimchi, students have helped plant flowers inside the greenhouse and are planning on evaluating their growth in the coming weeks.
Nelson Mills ’22 said, “We just planted snapdragons about a week ago and I’m looking forward to working on mendelian and non-mendelian inheritance patterns with those. I think that will be very interesting.”
Although the Greenhouse stood quietly for over six months and the dynamic of Deerfield proves to be everchanging amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Teutsch and his AP Biology students as well as members in the community service co-curricular stand strong to help promote the Greenhouse’s success for the benefit of the Deerfield community.