Atlanta's Cobb Galleria Center Keeps It Local with Venue's New Herb Garden

August 28, 2012

Across the United States, farm-to-table restaurants with a focus on locally grown produce are all the rage, and now convention centers are getting into the sustainable food movement.

Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria Center enlisted the help of staff volunteers to construct two large raised beds on the campus behind the venue’s kitchen, which have been filled with a variety of herbs.

Altogether, there are 20 different fully developed plants ranging from sage, mint, rosemary and several variations of basil in the garden.

The herbs yield large quantities of ingredients regularly used in the cuisine of the chefs, according to venue officials.

“Every other day we pick a five-gallon bucket full of basil used to make pesto, basil oil and compound butter,” said Executive Chef Nicholas Walker.

He added, “Everywhere we can use basil, we use it. I haven’t bought basil in a month.”

Besides the ease of having an herbal garden right outside the venue’s kitchen, it also has a positive impact on the environment.

Instead of calling in an entire truck for a small quantity of herbs, the garden minimizes pollution and maximizes efficiency since the herbs can be harvested onsite.

Director of Food and Beverage Kirsten Gleaves conceived the idea of having an herb garden at the center.

“The goal of having a garden is twofold: Our dedicated Green Team would like to be more sustainable by reducing our carbon footprint even in a small way,” Gleaves said.

She added, “Secondly, Chef Walker is passionate about using local products and would love to grow his own herbs, edible flowers and some greens. The garden is our way of combining both of those goals and at the same time will be an ongoing employee team-building project.”

The garden’s boxes were built by the venue’s engineering department and members of various departments helped with the planting. The food and beverage department takes care of the maintenance and watering.

Marigold is planted as a natural repellant for bugs, and there are no pesticides used.

The garden has been so popular, there are plans to build on to it even more in the future. Another four raised planters currently are being discussed for installation with more of a variety of herbs and the addition of vegetables.

The seasonal herbs will be replaced in the colder seasons with more weather appropriate substitutes such as kale, lettuce and wheatgrass, and in the spring, other vegetables will be added.

The 320,000 square foot Cobb Galleria Centre is located in the 88-acre Galleria complex in prestigious northwest Atlanta.

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