TR Green, Culinary Arts at TR High School

By Rebecca McKinney | September 01, 2014
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culinary arts at travelers rest high school

Four years ago, a student approached Victoria Chance, English teacher at Travelers Rest High School, to ask if Victoria would sponsor a sustainability club. She agreed, and the TR Green Club was formed. One of the club’s first projects was an organic garden. The original idea was to use the garden’s produce in the cafeteria, but because of school regulations, that was not possible. Enter Atiba Jackson, culinary arts teacher. TR Green plants and maintains the garden; Atiba’s students harvest, clean, prepare and eat the organically-grown vegetables and herbs. If the class can’t use all the produce, the teens take it home with them.

travelers rest high school culinary arts
travlers rest high school culinary arts

As the garden concept took form, others stepped forward to help. The space is dubbed “Colonel Chance’s Slow Food Garden,” for Victoria’s father-in-law, a generous benefactor whose donation paid for the raised beds. Jack Taylor from Appalachian Organics in Pickens donated large quantities of worm castings. Other community members, including Master Gardeners Adrienne Hawkins and Charles Pickelsimer, contributed knowledge and sweat equity. Clemson Extension’s Cyd Brown came out to help, too. 

Space is carefully utilized. Lavender and rosemary flourish in the eight inches between the school and sidewalk, fanning out against the wall as though they were hugging a Mediterranean villa. The raised beds are well cared for and productive; during the summer, when school is out, Atiba’s three children happily help Victoria harvest tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Flowers grow among the vegetables. The onions stand tall, their white heads nodding and swaying in the breeze. Most of the students had never seen onion flowers, but love them, Victoria says; they think the flowers look like Dr. Seuss illustrations. 

travelers rest high school culinary arts
Atiba Jackson and Victoria Chance

The garden is a two-time winner of Slow Food Upstate grants. Janette Wesley, the teachers note, is the best supporter they have. Through a Slow Food program, 1000 Gardens in Africa, TR Green has been matched with a garden in Sierra Leone. This year, Victoria hopes to add pawpaw trees to the students’ repertoire; the gardens in Africa already have them.

Victoria Chance
Travelers Rest High School

Atiba Jackson
Travelers Rest High School

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