A Growth Season at The Garden School

“Growing as a person, cultivating the land, and serving the community”

Some people feel pressure to go to college before they know what they want out of the experience. Some settle for jobs that merely pay the bills but don’t use their creative gifts in meaningful ways. Others spend their life chasing money only to realize in the end that other aspects of life are far more important.

Come, take a step back, consider your gifts and goals,
and identify a path forward into a life of meaning and creativity.

The Garden School’s Growth Season program is designed for young adults, age 18-24, to do just that while gaining empowering life skills.

In June 2022 we will be launching our six-month Growth Season program, and we’re accepting applicants to join the pioneer class. If you are an open-minded, adventurous soul looking to learn skills and grow as a person, please reach out and apply!

Program Benefits

Personal Growth

  • Consider your vocation—where individual gifts meet real needs in the community
  • Cultivate simplicity and thankfulness: “contentment is the greatest wealth”
  • Learn to dialogue with confidence and respect
  • Explore the role of belief, faith, and critical thinking in your life
  • Reflect on life experience and personal values and grow in wisdom

Life skills

  • Meal planning and cooking (using freshly-harvested on-site produce in season)
  • Budgeting and basic financial planning
  • Living and working cooperatively in a diverse community
  • Writing for professional development

Horticultural training; actual crop-production experience including:

  • Working in harmony with nature to grow delicious food for the community
  • Soil care, seedling propagation, and field preparation
  • Transplanting, irrigating, managing weeds and pests
  • Harvesting and marketing nutritious produce at The Farm Stand

Experience creatively serving the community

  • Organizing and hosting life-giving events for the local community
  • Garden tours and gardening workshops
  • Forums, dialogues, art shows, etc.
  • Other student-initiated projects

Program schedule for students:

June – December

  • Two programmed days per week (Wednesdays and Fridays) learning, working, reflecting, and playing together
  • Biweekly individual meetings with a mentor
  • One communal meal each week with biweekly intentional discussions
  • Creating and hosting engaging events for the broader community (once per month)
  • Two hours per week rotating chores
  • Five unstructured days per week to independently pursue part-time work, self-directed learning, skills development, and/or outside coursework
  • Occasional group adventures and field trips


Program Fee of $8,000 to be paid in instalments (inquire about scholarship availability)


  • Rent and utilities for 7 months, June-December
  • One group meal/week and unlimited free produce in-season
  • All educational and personal growth experiences and events

If you are interested in growing with us or have any questions/feedback about the program, please fill out the following form a.s.a.p. or contact benzoba@thegardenschool.org .

We will setup a phone conversation with each applicant within a week after receiving the application.

Growth Season Staff

Ben Zoba

Ben graduated from Gordon College in ’05 as a Theological Studies major. Upon graduating he taught 9th and 11th grade English and Literature in Puerto Rico, where he learned first hand the great challenges and opportunities facing modern educators.

Upon returning to Massachusetts, Ben expanded his familiarity with alternative educational approaches by working as a Crew Leader for high schoolers in the summer program of The Food Project, an agriculture-based youth development program. After a year-long sustainable agriculture apprenticeship, Ben became the head grower for The Food Project’s Beverly and Wenham farms. During his eight years in this role, he oversaw the production of over 400,000 lbs. of organically-grown produce, directed the fieldwork of about 400 teenaged workers, and led countless volunteer groups in the fields.

Since 2019, Ben has worked at New Entry Sustainable Farming Project as The Beginning Farmer Educator.

Ben is committed to educating and empowering young people by connecting them with nature’s abundance. To that end, he in concert with his brother, launched The Garden School.

For fun, Ben likes to invent gadgets in his workshop, play ultimate frisbee, practice martial arts, and travel with his wife Christina.

Christina Zoba

Christina is one of the mentors at The Garden School Growth Year Program. She graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology from Gordon College (minoring in Art), and following that spent a year teaching high school English in Puerto Rico. Currently, she works as a personal assistant and has spent time working as a chef’s assistant, as well as teaching some soup-making classes at Appleton Farms. She has a significant interest in food, health, and nutrition, but also in the enjoyment of eating! Her job as a personal assistant and her jobs in the food industry, as well as her volunteer work in The Garden School office have given her a good deal of experience with food, planning, organizing, and budgeting. In her spare time she likes making pottery, cooking and baking, going to the beach, getting together with friends, and hanging out with her husband, Ben, and their two cats, at their home in Beverly.

Other Staff supporting the program:

The Garden School is fortunate to have a broad network of wise, creative, and caring people who will be sharing their gifts and time with Growth Season participants. This network includes our beloved board members, skilled educators, experienced youth and young adult programs leaders, successful professionals, and inspiring innovators.

There is a great community of people who have been devoted to improving the campus for the last 5 years and working toward the launch of this program, and Growth Season participants will be welcomed into a vibrant network of good people!