20 Aug 2014
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Students Take On Hunger, Say 'Yes' to Grow-A-Row

By taking on a 20 by 20 foot plot at the new Hamilton-Wenham Community Garden, 18 Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School students seek to help nourish those in need.

Students Take On Hunger, Say 'Yes' to Grow-A-Row Students Take On Hunger, Say 'Yes' to Grow-A-Row Students Take On Hunger, Say 'Yes' to Grow-A-Row Students Take On Hunger, Say 'Yes' to Grow-A-Row

An idea, even a good idea, is nothing more than a thought in a cartoon bubble until somebody takes action.

Caitlyn Passaretti and her peers in the Class of 2012 know this. Passaretti and her friends are doers. With classes and final exams behind her, Passaretti along with 17 others, is turning her attention away from books to another kind of work - the kind that raises a sweat and dirties the hands.

This growing season as participants in the , the group, led by Passaretti is toiling to put food on the table of those in need.

A year ago the Hamilton-Wenham Green Community Garden was little more than an inspired idea and . Today, thanks to support from the Hamilton-Wenham Open Land Trust, business sponsors , Corliss Brothers, and , and grants from New England Grassroots Environmental Fund and New England Biolabs, the community garden is a rousing reality with 30 raised-bed plots and a waiting list started for 2013. Horner, LaPointe and Passaretti prove that enthusiasm and goodwill are contagious.

“It’s just a group of friends trying to do something good,” said Passaretti’s classmate and fellow gardener Katy Hogan.

The choice to participate in Grow-A-Row came naturally to Passaretti and Hogan. The two had worked as volunteers with The Food Project and held summer jobs at in Wenham.

In working for The Food Project at , Long Hill Reservation in Beverly and at Ingalls School Farm in Lynn, Passaretti and Hogan learned about “Food Injustice,” Passaretti explained.

“Now we’re trying to bring it home to Hamilton-Wenham. I thought we may as well try and do something here.”

Undertaking altruistic projects comes as second nature to Passaretti and to her schoolmates.

“I work with an exciting and very kind group of young adults that truly care about the environment and the health and happiness of others,” said Camilla Worsfold, one of a core group most dedicated to making a success of the Grow-A-Row garden.

“I would like to recognize Caitlyn Passaretti as the absolute saint she is for envisioning and organizing this project,” said Worsfold.

“I first learned about the project from Caitlyn,” echoed Dan Estabrook.

“After learning that the opportunity was there, and that the food grown would be donated to the , I decided that it was a cause worthy of student support,” Estabrook added.

Passaretti explains the impetus for taking on the garden grew out of another activity the teens had been involved with - a school based recycling club.

“The goal of the club is to expand the recycling education and efforts of the High School,” explained physics teacher Blair Cochran, who serves as the club’s advisor.

“Caitlin stepped up as the president of the club this year and has done an outstanding job,” he added.

Seeing the arrival of graduation and spring coming fast, Passaretti struck on the notion of keeping the spirit of doing good alive. Her involvement with the recycling group was to come to an end as it would for the other seniors in the club, but as Passaretti saw it there were other opportunities close at hand.

As recycling club members tell it, Passaretti pitched the idea of taking on a community garden plot on behalf of beneficiaries of Acord Food Pantry at one of the final meetings. And it was an easy sale. Most of the club’s members signed on.

“We even have a Facebook page,” said Hogan. “It’s called 'Fatta The Lan’, but I don’t think it’s public.” Fatta The Lan was taken from John Steinbeck’s book “Of Mice And Men” which the AP English class recently completed.

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