Feed More Receives A New Herb Garden
The Garden is full of beautiful landscapes, blossoming flowers, art installations and small wildlife. It is beautiful year round and always offers something new to engage with. However, one of the most amazing areas of the Garden is the Kroger Community Kitchen Garden. This time of the year it’s bustling with visitors, horticulturists, volunteers and school field trips. School children and visitors look, learn, discover and visit. They can smell the plants and herbs, learn about gardening and how to create one of their own. It’s a great place to discover a new passion and see what goes into harvesting produce.
The Garden partners up with local organizations like Feed More to provide fresh, organic produce. For ten years, the Kroger Community Kitchen Garden, or the KCKG, has been growing plants such as herbs, squash, lettuce and tomatoes and now delivers this fresh produce to organizations like Feed More. Providing them with herbs and vegetables helps them prepare fresh meals to food agencies like Meals on Wheels.
Senior Horticulturist Laurel Matthew delivers produce to Feed More on a weekly basis. Recently, Laurel gathered up over a dozen different herbs and planted them in individual pots to take to Feed More. They received things such as thyme, dill, parsley and sage. With the new herbs directly on site, head chef Antjuan, alongside his other co-workers, can now use fresh herbs in the meals they prepare. It empowers the organization to grow small things at its own location and get hands-on with their food.
“One way the KCKG can help in Feed More’s mission to provide delicious, healthy food is to provide the freshest produce and herbs possible. Previously, we used to cut herbs from our garden and bring them to Feed More. This year, we’ve taken the whole herb garden to Feed More! Twelve patio-sized containers were planted with culinary herb staples and delivered to the Feed More’s loading dock, where Chef Antjuan and his staff situated their new herb garden in a prominent and convenient location with full sun,” said Laurel.
“The kitchen staff at Feed More now has instant access to commonly-used herb ingredients including basil, cilantro, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Chef Antjuan is especially fond of Thai basil, so we made sure that was one of the four basil cultivars included in the planting,” said Laurel. “In addition to kitchen staples, the herb garden also includes some novel ingredients –amaranth and Mexican mint marigold. Amaranth leaves can be used as a substitute for spinach and its seeds can be harvested and used as a grain. Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) is a plant that can be used as a substitute for tarragon but believed to be more tolerant of Virginia summers.”
The next time you visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, stroll through the Kroger Community Kitchen Garden. Take a deep breath when you walk through the entrance and smell the aroma of produce and herbs around you. You might enjoy it so much you’ll want to start volunteering at Lewis Ginter. You may even want to start a garden of your own.