Greenville Tech’s Culinary Program Puts Waste to Good Use in Garden

May 27, 2014

GREENVILLE, SC – The Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College is working to bring food from the garden to the table and back to the garden when the meal is over.

With the assistance of a $10,000 grant from the Piedmont Health Foundation, Chef Instructor Patrick Wagner has created a ¾ acre plot at Greenville Tech’s Northwest Campus. The effort, he said, benefits the program educationally and economically. “We’re creating a model that encourages environmentally beneficial practices,” he said. “At the same time, this garden results in cost savings since we’re growing some of the herbs and vegetables our students use as they create healthy meals.”

Wildlife is a challenge at the 170-acre campus, tucked back from the traffic of White Horse Road in Greenville, SC. To deter deer from eating the herbs and vegetables, cover crops such as clover are planted at the edge of the garden, where it is hoped deer will feast, leaving more desirable plantings to survive.

Deer are also repelled by human hair, so at the suggestion of Department Head Alan Scheidhauer and his colleague, Chef Instructor Austin Craft, Wagner has found a way to reuse waste from another college program. Greenville Tech’s Cosmetology clinic, where students gain real-world experience as they cut and style clients’ hair, donates human hair to the garden, which Wagner then places at the edges of the garden to keep deer, squirrels, and other pests away.

Food wastes from culinary classes go back to the soil through the program’s composting effort. Soldier fly larvae are added to the compost bin, where they speed up the process of turning food waste into compost.

The garden effort will be incorporated into training provided to school cafeteria workers. Food and Nutrition Services employees from Greenville County Schools will be joined this year by cafeteria employees from Spartanburg and Anderson counties. They come to the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Tech to learn techniques for preparing fresh, healthy meals that children will want to eat.

The garden, brand new this year, is expected to grow. “We’re starting small, planting one section of the garden at a time,” Wagner said. “We hope to grow this effort and our sustainability practices over several seasons.”