The Orme School Bestowed a Burpee Foundation Grant

Four new programs to be launched to benefit academics, campus life and student health

MAYER, Ariz. — (June 6, 2014) — The oldest private college preparatory coed boarding school in the Western states, The Orme School, announced today it has received a grant from The Burpee Foundation of New York City, NY.  The grant consists of—quite literally— seed money for growing Orme’s “To Table” initiative, launched in 2013 to connect Orme students, faculty and staff directly to their own food supply, and in so doing, provide healthy, seasonal and locally-grown food, as well as flowers, at all meals in the school’s Founder’s Hall 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 completely unique academic program in the biological and physical sciences that will include the gardens and animals as a living laboratory.”

The “To Table” program will expand from its current on-campus organic garden plot and “garden-to-table” program, overseen by biology teacher, Casey Jones, to a four-component platform to round out what will be the most comprehensive and hyper-local school food and flower program in the country. It will include:

  • Garden-to-Table: now in its second growing season, the 35,000 square foot (3/4 of an acre) organic garden provides outdoor experiential learning space for students to study biology, horticulture and ecology firsthand while multi-tasking by supplying organic vegetables and culinary herbs to Chef Patti Mars, Director of Food Services. The Burpee Foundation grant will provide for the addition of a large new greenhouse, and renovation of the current one. Aging, former stables will be converted to new, highly efficient compost bins. This diverse horticultural section of campus will be named, “The Burpee Garden Complex.”
  • Farm-to-Table Program: Chef Mars has contracted with many local farms to ensure an ongoing supply of locally-grown potatoes, mushrooms, and onions, and will further expand by integrating several small fields on campus to raise both edible and forage grains, such as wheat and oats.

Burpee Foundation Grant to Orme School

  • Orchard-to-Table Program: When school resumes in the fall, a two-acre organic orchard and grape arbor will be planted with apple, apricot, fig, peach and plum trees, and named “The Burpee Orchard.”
  • Ranch-to-Table Program: Orme’s ranching traditions continue and grow, now with the addition of chicken coops and laying hens on campus. Also, beef is now sourced from local ranches including The Orme Ranch. However, by 2015-2016 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 all of the above initiatives for three years, underwrite one teacher managing the “To Table” program, as well as a permanent Biology Chair, and finally, leave in 2018 a $500,000 endowment to support, exclusively, these programs.

“My company, Burpee, has been farm-to-table since 1875 so it is an approach to food production that I keenly appreciate,” said Orme alumnus George Ball, who is a current trustee of The Orme School, and is Chairman and CEO of W. Atlee Burpee Company, the nation’s leading home garden seed and plant company. “The Burpee Foundation grant will enable Orme students, faculty and staff to engage in, and eventually deeply know, one of the world’s healthiest activities: cultivating one’s own food. Also, we want Orme students to learn the natural, unmediated beauty of flowers by raising them, as well.”

Established in 1929 by Charles and Minna Orme, both 1916 Stanford University graduates, The historic Orme School is distinct as a pioneering independent, nonprofit (501c3) educational institution. The 300-acre Orme campus is located in central rural Arizona on 300 acres at 4,000 ft. elevation, and is surrounded by the 26,000-acre Orme Ranch, and the 1.25-million acre Prescott National Forest. In addition to its rigorous academics, Orme students are involved in outdoor, athletic, horsemanship and art activities as part of a well-rounded experience to prepare students for both college and life. The oldest private coeducational college preparatory boarding school in the Western States of America, Orme remains committed to its founding family’s traditional values of community, responsibility, leadership, competition, and academics.

The Orme School’s motto is: “Excellence, Tradition, Character”.

One comment on “The Orme School Bestowed a Burpee Foundation Grant

  1. Great news to the ears of a past camper, student and trustee. A wonderful thing to be doing again and going back to some of the school’s roots. Bravo!

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