On the afternoon of May 20th, students from all four Rabun County public schools got to enjoy the kickoff of a new event, called “Seed to Salad”, at Wildcat Hill Garden. It all started as an idea formed by Ms. Gretchen Grant, Rabun County Alternative School teacher; Mr. Charles Wright, Rabun County High School Assistant Principal; and Mr. Clay Brown, Rabun County Middle & High School Agriculture teacher. The idea was to have students plant and grow lettuce and root vegetables at Wildcat Hill Garden (WHG), harvest the produce, and then make and enjoy a salad together. Ms. Grant took the project and flew with it.
In the beginning of April, Ms. Grant, Ms. Vaughn (Parapro), and about 6 of their students planted lettuce, carrot, and radish seeds supplied from NEGA Farm to School, Farm Bureau, and Mr. Brown. They also planted herb and onion transplants. For the following month and a half Ms. Grant and her students weeded and watered the garden, spread mulch for weed control, built a rock berm around an ant hill as a natural deterrent, and harvested all of the vegetables and herbs to be used for the event. Mr. Brown’s class and Rhonda Williams, from the Farm Bureau, gave Ms. Grant and her class support when working in the garden by providing tools, seeds, and hands-on assistance. While planning garden days for her students, Ms. Grant was also reaching out to other teachers to see if they wanted to participate in the “Seed to Salad” event. She was able to get three other classes involved.
Ms. Brown’s kindergarten class prepared for the event with a lesson about seeding, growing, and harvesting lettuce. Mrs. Peacock’s 3rd grade class made ranch dressing with herbs harvested from WHG and Mountain Fresh Creamery milk, and her 5th grade class participated in the actual event. Ms. Scruggs’ 2nd grade class got a tour of the garden from Ms. Grant’s Alternative School students before participating in the event.
The day of the event was a time for communal celebration of Wildcat Hill Garden, what it produced, and all of those who helped make the school garden happen. Students came down to the school garden site in buses and were welcomed by a farm fresh meal and the smiling faces of Ms. Grant and her students; Mr. Wright; Mr. Brown; Mary Fry, Elementary School nutrition staff member and private event caterer; Joni Smith, 5th grade Student Volunteer Server; Cindy Turpin of the Farm Bureau; and Maggie Van Cantfort and Georgia O’Farrell of NEGA Farm to School. Each student got to sample all of the menu items and enjoy them in the school garden. They then participated in garden activities, led by Alternative Schoo l students, like weeding and raking mulch.
Not only were teachers and students involved, but Mary Fry, Elementary School nutrition staff member and private event caterer, made a majority of the food enjoyed by students and school faculty, and Chef Jamie Allred of Fortify made strawberry ice cream. See the fantastic menu that was developed for the event below:
Salad – Lettuce, carrots, onions, and radishes harvested from WHG the previous day
Croutons – Herbs harvested from WHG and milk/butter from Mountain Fresh Creamery
Ranch Dressing – Made by Ms. Peacock’s 3rd grade class. Herbs harvested from WHG and milk from Mountain Fresh Creamery.
Kale Stem Pesto Finger Sandwiches – Kale harvested from WHG the previous day, Georgia olive oil, homemade herb bread
Kale Chips – Kale harvested from WHG the previous day
Swiss Chard Salsa – Swiss chard harvested from WHG the previous day
Spicy Pickled Radishes & Spicy Pickled Chard Stems – Radishes and chard harvested from WHG the previous day
Ice Cream, Chef Jamie Allred – Strawberries from Mountain Earth Farms
Overall, the event was a huge success, and it could not have happened without each individual’s efforts and support. We are all here to help the younger generations prosper, and this event seemed to make an impact on Rabun County students with participants saying:
“This was fun. I hope we get to do it again next year.”
“We need all of this in our lunchroom right now!”
“Can we make these in your class?!”
“I tried a radish yesterday from the garden and it was delicious!”