Culinard Greenville Wins Grant to Expand Sustainable Gardens

May 28, 2014

Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College, in Greenville has been awarded a $2,500 grant from Embassy Suites and John Q. Hammond Hotels. The grant will help expand and support the sustainable garden efforts of the Greenville campus and educate the hotel team on sustainable practices. Fresh produce from the garden will be donated to the Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Culinard Greenville Wins Grant to Expand Sustainable Gardens

Chef Mark Bergstrom, Program Director of Culinard in Greenville and developer of the campus gardens, says the grant is a game changer. "We've been trying to grow a garden project, but it's hard to do without money," he says. Chef Bergstrom and Culinard students have expanded the gardens from 9 original raised beds to 18 raised beds ranging in size from 8 to 20 feet. On-site composters were also purchased with the grant money, making the garden's sustainable efforts easier.

The gardens are currently in the planting and growing phase of the project. "Embassy Suites is sending people over on a weekly basis for watering, weeding and tilling," says Chef Bergstrom. "And our garden club students are learning how to plant."

In addition to exposing Culinard students to planting, growing and maintaining a garden, the project focuses on sustainability practices. Students put these practices to work in the garden -- using newspaper to line beds to serve as weed barriers and save on water usage, for example -- while Chef Bergstrom takes his methods to seminars with Embassy Suites and John Q. Hammond hotel employees.

In the final phase of the project, produce from Culinard gardens will be donated to Harvest Hope Food Bank. "So often people get donated food, but they don't know what to do with it, "Chef Bergstrom says. To help solve that problem, Culinard students are taking part in a recipe contest. They must create healthy, low-cost recipes for the produce planted in the garden. The winning recipes will be printed up and included beside the vegetable bins at the food bank. "We want to make it as easy as possible for people," Chef Bergstrom says. "We're excited to be giving back to the community that has given so much to us."