D-E Green/Sustainability Programs

Our School Mission inspires community members to “meet the challenges of a changing world and make it better.” The D-E gardens, particularly the Netty Coyte Teaching Garden adjacent to the Upper School parking lot on the eastern border of the campus, is a wonderful visible manifestation of that phrase.

Through all four seasons, garden initiatives provide extraordinary educational opportunities for students and hands-on volunteer opportunities for all members of our community who are interested in keeping D-E “green.”

The first big event of the school year was Fall Garden Work Day in October, during which students and parent volunteers gathered to clear weeds, “dress” soils with nutritional compost, and conduct maintenance work in preparation for winter. November was seed-saving time: Students in the Middle School DIG (Dwight-Englewood in the Garden) elective practiced wet and dry seed-saving techniques and began their study of seed types and the anatomy of a seed. In the days before the December winter break, the DIG students harvested the last of the garden’s gifts this calendar year: green tomatoes, which were then fried (and enjoyed very quickly) in the science labs of Umpleby Hall.

In January, the Garden Club assembled a new compost bin that will serve our composting needs during construction of the new Middle School building. The temporary location is visible from the cafeteria and so helps remind students and faculty of the value and routine of composting. It also creates the opportunity for a US graphic design class to work on an interesting project: signage that will further the educational objective of school compost bins.

In D-E’s composting process, cafeteria staff save vegetable bits left over from the salad bar preparations, and students on lunch duty and US Environmental Club dump these, coffee grounds from the faculty coffee station, and some post-tray waste (such as banana peels) into the “ComposTumbler” every day.  

…helping the cafeteria maintain its green restaurant certification by managing some food waste in an Earth-friendly way.

Tasha Urbanowski, Garden Club faculty advisor and Dean of the 6th Grade, noted, “While they are a bit of a nuisance to set up, the metal bins make composting—especially turning the compost to help it decompose evenly—neat and quick. Students can dump waste after lunch, spin the bins, and still get back to class on time. We are proud to be making our own fertilizer for the school garden and to be helping the cafeteria maintain its green restaurant certification by managing some food waste in an earth-friendly way.”  

To keep up with D-E sustainability initiatives, visit www.d-e.org/green.

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