Cobb Galleria Centre’s Garden Grows
By Riley Muse
A team of Cobb Galleria Centre employees recently polished their green thumbs by re-planting and replenishing the Centre’s own on-site herb and food garden for the summer season. Located directly behind the kitchen for easy access, the garden yields ingredients used by the venue’s own chefs during the summer months. Producing herbs such as rosemary, oregano, parsley, peppermint, and basil, as well as a diverse series of other foods including fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherry tomatoes, onions, and even jalapen͂o peppers, the garden has proven to be a true asset to the Centre by providing a source of local food; making the venue more environmentally friendly; and creating a fun, team-building activity.
The garden is the brain child of Director of Food and Beverage Kristen Gleaves and planted to satisfy two important Galleria goals: reduce the Centre’s carbon footprint and increase sustainability through the use of local products. “The garden is our way of combining both of those goals, and at the same time it’s an ongoing team-building project,” Gleaves said.
With planting and upkeep done by employees, the garden has proven to be 100% self-sustained within the Cobb Galleria Centre. The gardening boxes themselves were built by the convention center’s own engineering department, while staff volunteers oversee the watering, pruning and maintenance. Corporate Sales Manager and Garden Volunteer Katy Barahona said: “I genuinely want to learn about planting and growing food. It has been an educational experience for me.”
In addition to its food yield, the garden satisfies the goal of making the convention center more environmentally friendly. Despite only occupying a small amount of land, the garden minimizes pollution by replacing the need for a large truck to transport the food from an off-site location and maximizes efficiency as the food can be conveniently harvested on-site.
“Executive Chef Nick Walker is passionate about using local products,” Gleaves said, with basil being his particular favorite. “During peak season, we will pick a five gallon bucket full of basil every other day. It is used to make pesto, basil oil and compound butter,” Walker says. (A tutorial and recipe from Chef Walker on how to make your own fresh pesto and butter can be found on our YouTube channel here!)
Since its original debut in 2012, the garden remains one of the Cobb Galleria Centre Green Team’s most hands-on projects, with plans for the garden to continue to grow for years to come. “I love talking to clients about the fact that we grow the food that they will possibly eat,” Barahona said. “The garden really shows our outside-the-box thinking, and that we have a true vested interest in where our food comes from.”
For more information about the Cobb Galleria Centre and our in-house cuisine, visit cobbgalleria.com.