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A New Condition: Sustainable Agriculture in Costa Rica

By Jason Park, VI Form

A New Condition: Sustainable Agriculture in Costa Rica

During a summer program last year, I developed a deep, heartfelt connection to Costa Rica – more specifically, an organic farm. Located in Chilamate, the farm is owned and operated by Don Daniel, his wife, and his son. Our group designed, prepared, and built a mandala garden based on permaculture principles. As an ardent supporter of organic farming, Don Daniel showed us how he gathers manure and creates organic fertilizers for his farm. We combined all the necessary ingredients – sawdust, mulch, pig/cow manure, calcium, and microorganisms – in order to use the fertilizer as we built the garden bed. As a symbol of warmth and peace, the sun was our design of choice. Not only has our service to Don Daniel established a mutual bond, but listening to his story also evoked a mixed sensation of poignancy and respect. In fact, my interaction with Don Daniel and his history and wisdom advance beyond the physical parameters.

The Mandala

Following the completed work, Don Daniel and his wife treated us with warm Costa Rican coffee and yuca fries from the yucas we harvested earlier that day. We sat around the tables, facing Don Daniel. He smiled during every moment we shared, but this moment seemed difficult for Don Daniel to cope with as he was about to share his life story. 


Conservation and Sustainability on the Island of Nantucket: A Study Funded by The Matthews Grant

By Alie Hyland and Sam Leslie, VI Form

Conservation and Sustainability on the Island of Nantucket: A Study Funded by The Matthews Grant

Editor’s Note: The Matthews Fund provides grants to students of any form who are good citizens and solid students. Awards are based on merit and need as determined by a faculty committee. No awards will be given for athletic purposes. Grants are made for special needs such as tutoring assistance, special instruction, seminars, academic experiences of a national or international nature, and personal growth and advancement opportunities.


Our grant was focused on studying small island conservation and sustainability, and we chose Nantucket since it is close to St. Mark’s and because many students, faculty, and alumni have ties to the island.  We stayed on the island for one week in June of 2019 and biked to various locations around the island including the Sconset bluffs, the Bartlett Farm, and the town center. Thanks to the Matthews Grant, we were able to explore a passion that we might not have had the opportunity to research otherwise.  This paper shows our findings from the trip and includes pictures from our research. 


Stories From the Soil: Three Months on Joe’s Brook Farm

Henry Hirschfeld, VI Form

Stories From the Soil: Three Months on Joe’s Brook Farm

For the past four summers, I have had the opportunity to learn, live, and work on aimg_0101 twelve-acre organic vegetable farm in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. With five of the most honest, loving, and hardworking young adults I know, I grew, weeded, and harvested over fifty varieties of produces for nine hours, six days a week. This past summer, I was able to spend nearly my entire vacation working at Joe’s Brook Farm with my older sister Cora. With the generous Class of 1968 Fellowship, I went to the farm hoping to document my experience in order to share with family, friends, and St. Mark’s. (more…)