This "Growing SAGE" post brings us to the Lone Star State, where we'll feature The Awty International School's gardens in Houston, Texas.
Take a look around these lively gardens any time of year, and there’s an abundance of colorful produce! Broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, beets, carrots, garlic, spinach, cucumbers, strawberries, eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes, peas, artichokes, and herbs all make a vibrant showing in the campus' 18 raised beds, each of which is 32 square feet
The SAGE Team at Awty has a great time partnering with students in the school’s environmental club, headed by teacher Olivier Logette, to provide fresh food from the gardens. Food Service Director Tim Morgan gives the “farmers” a list of vegetables and herbs to plant, and when they’re ready to harvest, students deliver what they've grown directly to the kitchen. In the spring, the Awty community can always count on lots of Swiss chard, and when students return after summer break, their raised beds of sweet potatoes are ready to harvest for delicious fall dishes like Autumn Harvest Bisque. This year alone, the garden has produced three full raised beds of Swiss chard, two of sweet potatoes, one of carrots, and one of radishes!
Often, the food students eat is as educational as it is delicious. This year, students planted a variety of carrots (white, orange, and red) to enrich a discussion on agricultural biodiversity. Later, the same students took a small portion of the carrot harvest to perform a chromatography of their pigments. They brought the rest of the harvest to Chef Tim, who happily incorporated the carrots into the next day's lunch. Some other garden-fresh items that he's featured in lunches are mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, artichokes, beets, cucumbers—and of course, sage.
Awty's overall commitment to sustainability shows up in so many ways in the dining hall. In addition to the campus gardens, vegetables are also sourced from local farms. The kitchen composts to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich fertilizer. Tim says, “It’s a real treat to see the kids bring in the produce from Awty’s garden. They’re so proud of their efforts; it really brightens up the kitchen’s day!”