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

Visit to learn more about the Green Teacher Network and to sign up for our newsletter.

Register now for Feb. 18 workshop – Gardening 201 (the sequel!)

The Green Teacher Network invites educators and volunteers working in schoolyard gardens to our winter workshop on Feb. 15. This is a great place to learn and network with people just like yourself.
We'll have several hands-on activities and a cooking cart presentation by Johnson & Wales culinary instructor Megan Lambert. We'll even send you home with materials for your garden!

Here are the details

  • Time: The Network will meet 9 am-1 pm Feb. 15.
  • Place: The Park Expo and Conference Center, 800 Briar Creek Road, Charlotte.
  • Cost: $10 to cover materials and lunch.
  • RSVP by Feb. 11: Please CLICK to complete our online reservation form. 

The program

Gardening 201 – Additional information on launching and developing a successful schoolyard garden. The workshop will offer hands-on demonstrations on:

  • Composting at school
  • Planting raised-bed gardens
  • Using a tasting cart in the classroom, with taste-testing ideas

Gardening 201 builds on the Nov. 1 workshop program, Gardening 101. (CLICK to view several short videos of that presentation by Henry Owen of Friendship Gardens).

Ultimate Schoolyard Garden – You won't believe it until you see all of the ideas our team of experts have packed into the Ultimate School Yard garden. Get an overview of the exciting display we are helping create for the upcoming Southern Spring Home & Garden Show, Feb. 21-23 and Feb. 28-March 2 at The Park Expo and Conference Center.
Sneak preview – Our event takes place in the same facility as the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show (no, not a coincidence!). Stay after the workshop for a quick visit to the display hall where our team is installing the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden. Tour starts at 1:15.
Professional credit – We will record hours and provide a certificate of participation that can be used for  professional credits.

Reservations and additional information

  • Reservations: CLICK to register for the workshop. Deadline is Feb. 11.
  • Questions: SEND AN EMAIL to Edna Chirico.
  • Learn more: Visit to learn more about our group and programs and to sign up for our newsletters.
  • See Gardening 101 videosCLICK to view several short videos that capture the key points of our previous workshop, Gardening 101.