This past weekend, a group of students from Bridgeport’s Great Oaks Charter School took a few hours out of their Saturday to learn a bit about sustainable farming.
The students visited Reservoir Community Farm, one of 14 community gardens run by the Green Village Initiative, a local non-profit whose mission is to create social, economic and environmental change through a unified network of urban farms, community gardens and school gardens.
The morning started out with a tour of the grounds by Ellie Angerame, who runs the Reservoir Community Farm. Ellie, who grew up in Bridgeport, is driven to build a stronger Bridgeport through green initiatives in the Park City: “What gets me up every morning is days like today where I’m working with youth, teenagers, adults who live in Bridgeport and love Bridgeport and want to find ways to make it better… sometimes I feel like figuring that out means getting your hands dirty.”
The students took Ellie’s lead, diving headfirst into weeding flowerbeds that will play host to soon-to-be-planted spring crops.
Talking with a handful of weeds he had just pulled from the ground, Sakai, a seventh grader, said he volunteered because “I like gardening, getting in the dirt, and being around plants.” Vanae, also a seventh grader and a lifelong Bridgeport resident, said her passion for gardening started with a science experiment in class where they had to grow daises. Volunteering at the farm built on that project, and made her want to start a garden of cucumbers, strawberries, and watermelon one day.
Kait Wood, who mentors and tutors Great Oaks students through AmeriCorps, was a chaperone for the students. She said the day was about “showing students examples of how they can give back to the place they live.” Many of the students who chose to volunteer are part of an ‘Activism’ elective Kait co-teaches, which is available as part of Great Oaks’ afterschool program.