Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tour an urban farm and much more at May 3 workshop

Here is how the old greenhouse at Garinger High School looked last July when UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute wrote about the Urban Farm project being started by Henry Owen of Friendship Gardens (pictured).
May 3 promises to be a great day for learning about community and school gardens.  Our next Green Teacher Network workshop, from 11 am to 3:30 pm at Garinger High School, will include three workshops and a tour of Friendship Gardens’ 3-acre Urban Farm on the school campus.

We've teamed up with the Annual Community Garden Tour, too! 

You can learn even more by beginning the day at 9 a.m. with the Community Garden Tour, a popular annual event hosted by the Mecklenburg Fruit and Vegetable Coalition. The tour arrives Garinger in time to visit the gardens and take part in the workshops.

GTN Charlotte program

Come meet the red wriggler,  composting's best friend!
Whether you come with the community garden tour or begin your day at 11 with our event, the schedule at Garinger High will be the same. The GTN Charlotte workshop will begin at 11 with registration and tours of the Friendship Gardens Urban Farm, including an orchard, active greenhouse, aquaponics, washing station, field crops and more! At noon we’ll break for lunch and networking.
Then we will divide into smaller groups at 1:15 and rotate through three breakout sessions:

  • Raised beds - Learn how to make a raised bed and winterize it with hoop housing.
  • Composting with worms - Discover how easy it is to create super-rich compost through vermiculture.
  • Garden/food carts - How to make one and use it in the garden and classroom.

The program will end with a raffle and gift bags for everyone.

Register online today!

Sign up online for the GTN Charlotte May 3 workshop.  Cost of $10 covers lunch and program materials. You can pay via credit card or PayPal account (not required if you pay by credit card). Registration deadline is May 1. Garinger High School is at Eastway Drive and Sugar Creek Road. We will email you directions and parking instructions on May 1. Questions? call

More about the Community Garden Tour

Green Teacher Network and Mecklenburg County Fruit and Vegetable Coalition
This exciting half-day event will take place 9 am-1 p.m. May 3, ending at Garinger High School in time for you to take part in the Green Teacher Network spring workshop. The purpose of the Community Garden Tour is to encourage participants to join a community garden or start their own garden, get educated about the benefits of growing their own fruits /vegetables and to encourage the creation of gardens in our community. The tour is sponsored by the Mecklenburg Fruit and Vegetable Coalition.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Video: See the fun and learning at the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden

The Catawba River District and five partner organizations have coordinated the creation of the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden display at the Southern Spring Home and Garden Show, taking place last weekend and this coming weekend at the Park Expo Center on Independence Boulevard.
The Ultimate Schoolyard Garden features a whopping 18 separate displays within a single 30-by-30-foot exhibit space. Learn about:

  • Ozone gardens
  • International gardens
  • Aquaponics (where fish AND plants share nutrients and water)
  • Incorporating bees, goats and chickens into your school's natural area. Rain barrels
  • composting
  • Inviting wildlife into your outdoor garden area.

Henry Owen with Friendship Gardens put together this video tour of our exhibit. We hope you enjoy it.
Even better, we hope you go to the show, which runs Friday-Sunday at the Park Expo Center on Independence Boulevard. There's nothing like walking through the exhibit and seeing all of this in person!

Show details

See the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden Feb. 28-March 2 at the Southern Spring Home and Garden Show. CLICK for details of the show.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ultimate Schoolyard Garden is open for visitors!

Visitors line up for aquaponics display
The Southern Spring Home and Garden Show opened on Frday, and visitors were soon streaming through our Ultimate Schoolyard Garden display – checking out the oak-pallet construction, talking with Mecklenburg Beekeeper Association members and watching the tilapia swimming in a tank next to several tiers of hydroponic plants.

We won 2 awards!

Judges at the show were equally impressed. Our display has won two awards!
  • The American Horticultural Society Environmental Award: for best demonstration of skillful design that incorporates Environmental Stewardship in the Garden.
  • The American Horticultural Society Award: for showng agricultural excellence and demonstrating the best example between horticulture and the environment.

"This is a tribute to our wonderful Southern Spring Show team and 9 months of hard work," said Edna Chirico, who led the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden effort.  "Special appreciation to the LandDesign team for the wonderful design and CPCC Carpentry Teams for hours of hard work, our wonderful Horticulturalists and all the special partners involved in planning, building and now manning this display," she said.
See all of the great displays and enjoy the entire home and garden show, which runs today-Sunday (Feb. 23) and Feb. 28-March 2 at the Park Expo on Independence Boulevard at Briar Creek Road. 

Visit our displays online  >>

Get Spring Show Tickets and Info  >>

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New date for Green Teacher Network workshop – Feb 15

To accommodate snow day make-up for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the Green Teacher Network has changed the date for the Teacher/Educator workshop from Tuesday, February 18, to Saturday, February 15 – same time (9am to 1pm and same place The Park Expo Center at 800 Briar Creek Road and East Independence Blvd. (next to Bojangles arena ).  CLICK for map and directions.

About the workshop

Ferns for show, growing at CPCC
The program will include a presentation entitled Gardening 201, plus other information and time for everyone to network. We will still be able to accommodate a tour of the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden (under construction).
Cost for the workshop of $10 includes lunch, summary garden guide, classroom tasting kit and other surprises. Capacity for this hands-on workshop is 100 teachers/educators – so please sign up early. 

How to register

To register for this workshop (Continuing Education Credit) and learn more about Green Teacher Network, please to go Be sure to both register AND pay online through Paypal (credit cards accepted).
For additional information contact Edna Chirico by EMAIL or at 704 562-8847.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"I Tried It!" Kids and kale in Charlotte Schools

Massaged Greens Salad testers
By Erin Brighton
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council

This fall, thanks in part to a grant from the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council was able to add some new veggies to the tasting repertoires of students at schools around CMS. From sweet potatoes to kale and more, students met local chefs, learned new recipes, and, most importantly, tried new foods!

For the past few years, schools around Charlotte have been growing more school gardens, hanging out with more local chefs, and generally increasing their fruit and veggie consumption with innovative programs and projects. Pizza gardens and tasting carts have done a lot to get our kids thinking differently about eating more produce and this recent program, I TRIED IT!, joins the growing number of classroom projects intent on turning the junk food tide.

Have you had your favorite little people try new veggies lately? Get your kids some kale and have them make this amazing Massaged Greens Salad from local chef and culinary instructor Megan Lambert. If you want a taste of the finished product, grab a bite fast! I guarantee this salad won’t last long.

For more information about the Char-Meck Food Policy Council, visit our website at and be sure to join the Charlotte School Garden Network on Facebook! Happy eating!

Massaged Greens Salad made with kale

Massaged Greens Salad

Recipe by Megan Lambert, RD, JWU Culinary Instructor

This salad sounds a little scary, even for veggie lovers.  The dressing makes it really delicious, though, and kids love to help massage the greens!


  • 1-2 bunches fresh kale or mustard greens
  • 1 lemon for juice and zest
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 3Tbsp olive oil


  1. Thoroughly wash the greens in several changes of water.
  2. Remove stems.  Cut the greens into thin ribbons and place into a large bowl.
  3. Zest the lemon, and squeeze juice into a small jar.
  4. Mash the garlic and add it to the jar.
  5. Add the cheese and olive oil to the jar.  Place the lid on the jar, and shake to mix the dressing.
  6. Pour the dressing over the greens in the bowl.
  7. With very clean hands or wearing rubber gloves (over very clean hands), massage the dressing into the greens for a few minutes.  Really squeeze and mix the greens! 
  8. Enjoy!

See Megan's Massaged Greens Salad video

Find this and other recipe videos at

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Want a June garden in February? Here's how they do it

(View the video, "Our Garden Starts Here")

Visitors who tour the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden next month at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show will find hundreds of vegetable and flower plants that look like we plucked them from the future.
We didn't, of course. We just fooled Mother Nature into thinking it's June instead of February. On Jan. 7, the day after record Arctic cold swept through Charlotte, we met horticulture instructor Annie West inside the greenhouse at CPCC's Cato Campus to learn how that's possible.
Annie and Kaiti O'Donnell, owner of Living Color landscaping, are overseeing the task of growing nearly 1,000 plants at three locations for the two-weekend garden show. LifeSpan and Holy Angels of Belmont are also growing plants in their greenhouses.
Annie gave us a tour of the Cato Campus green house and talked about process.
You can see the work for yourself by visiting the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden. It will be on display at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show, Feb. 21-23 and Feb. 28-March 2 at the Park Expo and Conference Center on Briar Creek Road near Independence Boulevard.

Chefs in the Classroom share 3 more cooking videos

Megan Lambert prepares Plant Part Salad
Green Teacher Network's Chefs in the Classroom now have four short classroom cooking videos available to view. Megan Lambert, a culinary instructor at Johnson & Wales University, and Sean Cosby, a personal chef, have created the four cooking demonstrations to help classroom teachers with schoolyard gardens incorporate fresh produce in their lessons.
Here are the four recipes. Click, view and enjoy!

Learn more

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