Sophomores retreat to Sprout Creek Farm


Every year, sophomores at Sacred Heart Greenwich visit Sprout Creek Farm, a peaceful sanctuary, working farm, and educational center, to participate in their annual retreat. Religious of the Sacred Heart have continued the tradition of maintaining the farm and having the retreat in Poughkeepsie, New York for over 18 years. While at Sprout Creek, Sacred Heart students have the opportunity to grow closer to their peers and engage in personal reflection through activities such as participating in prayer, working with animals, and going on a nature walk. 
The Religious of the Sacred Heart first established an educational farm on the Sacred Heart Greenwich campus. Sister Sue Rogers, Sister Margo Morris, and Sister Georgie Blaeser started the program as a teaching tool so students could learn the importance of caring for God’s creation. When they relocated the program to Sprout Creek in 1990, they instituted an annual retreat to keep Sacred Heart students engaged in the farm and its ideals. 

Sprout Creek Farm is a working farm in Poughkeepsie, New York. Courtesy of Mrs. Vicki Allen

Before the previous owner of the land in Poughkeepsie passed away, he hoped that the farm would encourage young students to learn more about natural and sustainable ways of life, so he decided to give his land to the sisters, according to School Historian Mrs. Vicki Allen. Now, Sprout Creek Farm has built upon the goals of the Society of the Sacred Heart and works to educate children about caring for the Earth as well as creating a space for spiritual growth.
“[The mission is] to offer programs in spiritual development, using the agricultural resources of the farm as both [a] setting and starting point of such programs,” according to
Since then, the activities the students participate in have changed, but the message of the trip has remained. The experience reminds sophomores of their duty to the Earth and to each other. The girls remove themselves from their busy school lives to spend time in prayer and strengthen their relationship as a class in an environment unlike one they experience at home.
“I feel that we all need a Sprout Creek in our life,” sophomore Caitlyn Mitchell said. “Just a place where you can escape from the stresses of school and cherish nature and its wonders.”
Victoria Hannett ’20, Michaela Pond ’20, and Caitlyn Mitchell ’20 eating lunch at Sprout Creek Farm during the sophomore retreat.
Caroline Baranello ’20

Over the past years, the retreat has added opportunities for the class to bond. For example, in addition to interacting with the animals living on the farm, students can make bread using ingredients grown on the farm. While these activities encourage community-building, other activities focus on developing a deeper personal connection with God. 
Through such activities, the retreat provides sophomores with the opportunity to self-reflect. Students participate in a silent nature walk to give them the opportunity to be in touch with themselves and God.  On the nature walk, students walk next to the creek until they find a spot to sit and think. After a few minutes of reflection, the guides at Sprout Creek ask the students to draw their surroundings in an effort to connect with the earth and illustrate the beauty of nature. 
Upper School Theology Teacher and Upper School Theology Department Chair Mrs. Phyllis Pregiato has participated in the retreat for the past 18 years and finds that the time spent in nature allows students to communicate with and listen to God. Even more, Mrs. Pregiato encourages future sophomores to cherish this opportunity and focus on prayer.
“The retreat should be seen as bonding with God, it’s supposed to be very personal,” Mrs. Pregiato said. “Students have the chance to participate in reflection, so they can strengthen their faith lives.”
Sprout Creek Farm raises milk cows safely every year from birth to make cheese. Caroline Baranello ’20

Each year, the retreat follows a certain theme to guide the students through their meditation and prayer. This year, the theme of the retreat correlates to Pope Francis’ concern for the environment. Since his ordination, the Pope has written an encyclical of confronting climate change. He wrote the encyclical hoping to inspire people to value the Earth’s resources and live simpler lives that would help benefit all life on Earth, according to The New York Times.
In response to the Pope’s emphasis on environmental justice, Sophomores learned about how Sprout Creek Farm strives to maintain a sanitary and healthy environment for their animals. Sprout Creek states that through raising animals and plants in a civilized manner, consumers and farmers can better the environment, according to Mrs. Allen. Even more, the leaders of the retreat also instruct sophomores to treat both man and animal, in a civilized manner.
Sister Morris visited Sacred Heart Greenwich Friday, April 6 to give a talk titled “Making Connections” at the First Friday Liturgy. She spoke of the Pope’s concern for the environment and how it ties to the mission of Sprout Creek Farm.
“It [Sprout Creek Farm’s mission] is about how we become more human by interacting with everything that surrounds us,” Sister Morris said. “It’s about redefining community to include water, air, land, and animals. That helps us understand a lot of connections, and I don’t just mean to nature, but also to each other.”
– Isabella Quinson, Staff Writer
Featured Image Graphic by Isabella Quinson ’20