Food is a force for good. That’s why we work with amazing community partners to improve and empower healthy eating in our cities. One of those incredible partners: Garden School Foundation. In addition to this organization’s tireless efforts to empower youth with seed-to-table programming in underserved communities, we now consider Garden School one of our regional sourcing partners.
This past summer, they grew the mint in our seasonal Watermelon Mint Juice at our USC Village location. Now, for our fall menu, they’re at it again – but this time cultivating the rosemary for our Rosemary Limeade in their learning hub at 24th Street Elementary, right near our USC Village location. Recently, we sat down with Kathryn Kocarnik, co-director at the Garden School Foundation, to talk about our partnership and how it grew to include mint and rosemary sourcing, too.
How much rosemary does Garden School Foundation grow?
Rosemary grows in bunches and bunches in every one of our school gardens! It’s a hardy perennial shrub, and our rosemary bushes sometimes grow as tall as 8 feet! There really is no comparison for fresh-picked branches of this beautiful herb – the new growth of the plant holds most of the oils that flavor our culinary adventures. How much we grow is hard to say, but every volunteer, parent, student, and teacher that joins us in the garden often walks away with a sprig of rosemary, and we still have plenty more to share with restaurants like CAVA!
What excites you about growing rosemary?
We LOVE to grow rosemary for every school garden for all the different uses it has! We use it in our recipes with the kids, in crafting projects, lessons in plant adaptations, and as a token of appreciation for all that join us in the garden. This holiday season, our rosemary is being shared for countless potato roasts, creative winter wreaths, and CAVA’s rosemary limeade too!
Rosemary is one of the first things we plant in each garden because it’s so hardy and adds beautiful greenery to any new space. At our flagship garden at 24th Street School, the 1.5-acre edible space was once under a parking lot. With the determination of the community, we “beet” the asphalt and Garden School Foundation was born. Since rosemary grows well in poor soil, it went into the ground rather quickly and became a lesson in our resiliency to grow where we least expect to. Now, 12 years later, our garden is thriving, our soil has recovered and our rosemary plants continue to grow as reminder of the strength we all have to plant a future!
Are there any special facts you like to share while teaching people about rosemary?
Ancient Greeks believed that rosemary was a magical plant that could strengthen memory. We believe that too, as our students rarely forget a memory made in the garden. With its aroma, its ability to attract bees and pollinators, and its delicious addition to our palates, rosemary truly is a magical plant to us that will never be forgotten.