From farm to Heart

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A baby goat poses for a photo at Sprout Creek Farm. Courtesy of Ms. Kev Filmore

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Sister Margo Morris, Religious of the Sacred Heart, and former Convent of the Sacred Heart English teacher, sowed the seeds of Sprout Creek Farm at Sacred Heart, Greenwich in 1982. Now located in Poughkeepsie, New York, the farm has grown into a successful marketplace, an educational sanctuary, and an environmental enterprise.
Sister Morris established the farm to teach Sacred Heart students about farming and caring for animals. Along with help from her colleagues, she was able to establish a workplace in a location where students could learn through real life experiences, according to sproutcreekfarm.org.
“This was our attempt to bring basic realities to kids and actually have them participate in all of it,” Sister Morris said, according to organicconnectmag.com.
However, when she first introduced the idea for the farm, she struggled to find supporters for her endeavor. Despite little funding and minimal experience, Sister Morris was eventually able to gain support from members of her community.
According to sproutcreekfarm.org, “a small army of volunteers rebuilt, renovated, and reconstructed buildings, the first animals were gifts from friends, and six months after the idea was formulated, the farm was up and running.”
As the farm began to evolve and thrive, Sister Morris and her co-workers received a donation of 100 acres of land in Poughkeepsie, New York, and later moved the farm from Sacred Heart to the new settlement in 1987. Since then, they have added an additional 100 acres of land to the farm.
Religious of the Sacred Heart continue to run Sprout Creek Farm. The farm now boasts a cheese and ice cream-making facility and a working animal farm. It also sells its products across the United States, and offers summer programs and year-round events for students ages six through 18, according to sproutcreekfarm.org.
Sprout Creek Farm doubles as a non-profit organization. Its profits from the cheese market not only “provide some internal support for the agricultural operation as [a] ‘classroom’” but also “demonstrate and teach a complete cycle of food production from soil to table,” according to rscj.org
The farm keeps in touch with its roots by maintaining a strong connection to Sacred Heart. Each summer, members of the farm offer summer service programs such as “Project Harvest” and “Planet Earth: Dig It!“. Members of the Network of Sacred Heart schools organize these projects and students in Sacred Heart schools across the country can apply for the programs.
Last summer, junior Kelly McLaughlin and senior Abbi Wilson participated in service projects at the farm. Abbi appreciated learning new skills and cherished her time there.
“They mostly taught me about sustainable farming and living and how important it is to support local farms. I actually wrote an essay on local farms vs. corporate farms for Senior Seminar this year,” Abbi said.  “I really like that Sacred Heart is connected with the farm because I found that the farm has the same sort of community as we have here.”
Sacred Heart also offers retreats at Sprout Creek Farm that encourage students to take a break from their hectic schooldays and immerse themselves in a rural and peaceful setting.
The tenth grade class visited Sprout Creek Farm during their retreat April 28. The sophomores spent the day tasting a variety of homemade cheeses, bonding as a class, and interacting with the goats, sheep, and cows raised on the farm. 
Director of Campus Ministry, Upper School Community Service and Summer Enrichment, Mrs. Lori Wilson, coordinates the sophomore retreat and views it as an opportunity for students to recognize God in nature and to spend time relaxing with classmates.
Sophomore Emily Cleary enjoyed spending the day at Sprout Creek Farm connecting with the animals and developing a newfound appreciation for agriculture.
“I thought it was really interesting to be with animals and be able to pet them. It’s something I’ve never experienced before so I thought it was helpful in learning how to take care of the animals,” Emily said.
Despite Sprout Creek Farm’s relocation from Sacred Heart, Greenwich to Poughkeepsie over 20 years ago, Emily thought that the connection between the two institutions is still apparent.
“Everyone at the farm was so friendly like the people at Sacred Heart,” Emily said. “It was the perfect place to have the retreat.”
-Morgan Johnson, Staff Writer