Saturday mornings are typically reserved for the semester students and faculty to spend time with each other around campus or exploring the forest. This past weekend, however, the semester students were divided into groups, each one going to a different local organization for Community Service Day.
Along with seven other students, I went to Local Farm, a small community garden in Bath, Maine. We arrived at the garden, spoke to the owner to learn some background information, and then broke into groups to attend to various tasks. I started off with raking alongside our head of school, Ann Carson, and some other students. Meanwhile, other students weeded and others moved compost.Then, the whole group came together to clean off all the fallen branches in the corner of the garden to make room for new plants. I then worked with two other students on pruning the raspberry and blackberry plants, nailing new fences, and spreading compost over the area that we had previously cleared. The tasks sound simple written down, but in reality, we spent about four hours helping out on the garden.
At the end the owner of the garden provided oranges, apples, and water, and we sat on the picnic tables and marveled at time well spent. It was very rewarding to have put to use all the valuable skills I’ve learned at Chewonki: how to use a hammer to pry nails, how to determine if a twig is part of a dead plant or not, how to use time efficiently when gardening. I was also happy to be working with my peers on a garden that typically relies on volunteers; the gardener told us that we accomplished in four hours what would have taken her days to do. It was a great experience to know that we had made a positive contribution the larger community, and a wonderful chance to continue bonding as a semester.
It can often be really easy to forget, when you’re in a small and close-knit community, that a larger world exists beyond campus. What I appreciate about Chewonki is that we as students we remain actively engaged with the outside community, whether it be through volunteering at the local food pantry or Community Service Day. One of Chewonki’s biggest values is that believing that one person can make a difference, and volunteering for a day was a big reminder that determination and dedication can really bring about important change.
Blog post by Elyse Veloria (Concord Academy)