by Gabe Costanzo
Near the end of the last school year, in the second session of May Term, I had the privilege of working with five ambitious Upper School students who took on the task of renovating Allendale Columbia School’s vegetable garden. Danielle Fuller ’18, Kenny Mogauro ’18, Toshi Shizuuchi ’20, Aaron Kalvitis ’19, and Roxy Reisch ’20 met me in the Band Room, my home base, on the first day of May Term, and we had a discussion about the factors that contributed to their participation in this particular May Term course, “Grow Your Own Food.”
When I planned this course, my experience working in gardens with young people had taught me that the work should not be too physically demanding – kids don’t necessarily like to get dirty! And, I better make sure the activities are interesting enough to sustain the students’ continued participation. What I learned, once I got started with these young gardeners, shattered my previous perceptions. Not only did they come to this experience with the intention of doing some serious work, but they pushed me! We missed or were late to scheduled breaks and lunch every day, and after I told them that we should just focus on a section of the vegetable garden to get in really good shape for the summer, they proceeded to finish that section, ask to do more, move on to another section, and another, and another, until the entire area within the vegetable garden fence was planned and planted!
With May Term ending and the summer break commencing, the success of the vegetable garden could not have been possible without the help of several volunteers, who were very generous with their time and talents. Volunteers tended the garden one week at a time, with some volunteering two weeks of their summer.
- Mr. Andrew Ragan § P ’19, ’22
- Carol Bassett P ’21
- Nathaniel Pifer ’19
- Travis Godkin § P ’31, ’33
- Nathan Roof ’23 and his grandmother Sharon Miles GP ’23, ’25, ’31
- Danielle Fuller ’18
- Kristin Rorapaugh P ’22
- Jennifer Truong § P ’19, ’25
- Anne King §
- The Class of 2029
- Denise Martino P ’23 and the Martino family
- The AC Kitchen staff: Laura Reynolds-Gorsuch, Yessy Roman, and Patty Babcock.
Our volunteers saw the garden through the summer, from the day after Commencement to the ongoing harvests that continue to add fresh, organic, healthy selections to our daily lunches. I would also like to thank Mark Miller, Colin Purdy, and Charles Wynn of the Maintenance Crew, and Diane Broberg § P ’13, ’16, for setting up our supply of water, which was so critical during the early summer drought that we experienced in upstate New York.
The plan for the coming year is to continue to support community-building through gardening. With the vegetable garden in good shape, we are in a good position to make improvements to the adjacent perennial gardens, which support our very own bee colony as well as the local and transient butterfly populations. All together, it’s a big job, but many hands make light work. Contact me with interest in either supporting or leading these efforts.
(§ = faculty/staff)
Gabriel CostanzoAs an instrumental music teacher at Allendale Columbia School, Gabe teaches 4th Grade Band, 5th Grade Band, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Music Theory. He held the David M. Pynchon Chair in the Visual and Performing Arts from 2008 - 2013 and is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He earned bachelor's degrees in Music Education and Music Composition from SUNY College at Fredonia and a master's degree in Music Composition from Bowling Green State University. You can also find him on horn and vocals for the local band The Buddhahood.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School