Home-grown savings at the Convention Center

0 Comments 📅January 28th, 2011, 18:27

Chris-Moore-execut1166CCA-224x300We have harvested our first crop of greens at the Knoxville Convention Center. Farm-to-Table is one of the initiatives we employ in our efforts to be environmentally friendly. What that means is that we strive to use as much locally and regionally grown food as possible in the dishes we prepare for our guests. Not only does this provide the freshest, high-quality ingredients, it also fulfills our mission to support our community.

Now, we’re taking this commitment one step further. We’re growing some of this produce literally in our own backyard.

The kitchen staff at the Knoxville Convention Center, led by our excellent Executive Chef Chris Moore, recently began planting vegetables and herbs inside and around the Convention Center. This multi-phase initiative is a creative way to keep things environmentally friendly and cost-effective while still maintaining the quality, delicious cuisine our Convention Center guests are accustomed to.

We’ve barely entered phase one of our home-grown produce initiative and already we’re reaping rewards. Jason Bourgoyne, our director of operations, oversaw the building of a plant nursery in a utility room in the basement of the Convention Center. Following our commitment to being “green,” he used recycled materials to build the structures. In total, the set-up cost around $250.

The indoor nursery recently had its first harvest: a crop of microgreens. Microgreens are small, leafy plants which the kitchen staff uses for high-end salads and garnishes. The name microgreen comes from its stage of development. Plants in the micro stage have two leaves. Petite plants have four to six leaves. Later, the plant matures through the miniature stage to full-grown. The newer the plant, the more tender it is, so we harvest them early.

We are excited and pleased with the result of our first crop. Our first harvest represents a third of the total yield we expect with this crop. In the past, we’ve imported these plants from California, and each container costs somewhere between $35 and $40. This first harvest of homegrown plants yielded six of these containers. In total, we expect to save $540 on the total crop. That’s more than twice our original investment!

Jason-Bourgoyne-Di1166CDD-213x300Beginning to grow our own produce has been a learning process. We’re gradually learning how to make our plants grow faster and healthier. At each step in the process, we justify our work by showing the savings. Then, we can take our savings and reinvest it in the next step of the project.

We plan to take our initiative to phase two in the spring by implementing “edible landscaping.” As we plan and replant the area around the Convention Center, we will be adding vegetables and herbs to the World’s Fair Park side of the Convention Center and in the planters that line the plaza.

Here at the Knoxville Convention Center, we have always had a strong commitment to being “green” in all aspects of facility management. In our efforts to be environmentally friendly, we have saved some green by growing our own greens. And as spring approaches our whole program will continue to grow.

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