Originally published by: Independent School Magazine, Winter 2015
The Orme School (Arizona) has received a grant from The Burpee Foundation in New York. The grant consists of seed money for growing Orme’s “Food For Founders Hall” initiative. Launched in 2013, the initiative connects Orme students, faculty, and staff directly to their own food supply and provides healthy, seasonal, and locally grown food, as well as flowers, at all meals in the school’s dining facility. “In the long growing season of the high desert, this couldn’t be a better fit for a college preparatory boarding school community,” said Orme Headmaster Bruce A. Sanborn. “The Burpee Foundation grant also will enable us to develop quickly a unique academic program in the biological and physical sciences that will include the gardens and animals as a living laboratory.” The grant will enable the “Food for Founders Hall” initiative to expand from its current on-campus organic garden plot and “garden-to-table” program to a four-component platform that will include:
Now in its second growing season, the 35,000-square-foot organic garden provides experiential learning space for students to study biology, horticulture, and ecology firsthand while supplying organic vegetables and culinary herbs to Chef Patti Mars, director of food services. The grant will provide for the addition of a large greenhouse and renovation of the current one. Aging, former stables will be converted to new, highly efficient compost bins.
Many local farms will provide an ongoing supply of locally grown potatoes, mushrooms, and onions. The program will further expand by integrating several small fields on campus to raise both edible and forage grains, such as wheat and oats.
A two-acre organic orchard and grape arbor is being planted with apple, apricot, fig, peach, and plum trees.
Orme’s ranching traditions are growing and now include chicken coops and laying hens. Beef is sourced from local ranches including The Orme Ranch. By the 2015–16 school year, six beef cattle will be raised by students, under close supervision, for the Orme community’s consumption in 2017.
The Burpee Grant will support the above components for three years, underwrite one teacher managing the “Food for Founders Hall” initiative as well as a permanent biology chair.