It’s rare that someone gets the chance to literally enjoy the fruits, or in this case vegetables, of their labor but for two Sealy High School classes, they were able to do exactly that.
One year-two class and one general class, both taught by Angela Gutowsky, celebrated the first run of an eight-week program years in the making at the first-ever Harvest Lunch celebration.
Thanks to some outside help, the culinary classes were able to grow their own garden outside the school’s agriculture building. They grew vegetables and herbs ranging from squash to thyme to tomatoes.
“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for years now but it just took a while to find the resources and planning that went into it,” Gutowsky said. “Luckily we had some people come in from the Austin County AgriLife Extension who got us into contact with the Extension in Corpus Christi.”
It was through the Corpus Christi connection Sealy High students were given the plans for the program and they were able to partner with the Bluebonnet Master Gardeners Association. With the host of people offering to help, the rest of the program quickly came together.
“Each week a new person would come to speak to us with a couple of reoccurring appearances but we learned everything from how to do a soil tests, which bugs were good for plants and which weren’t and the different types of nutrients you can use to help growth,” Gutowsky said. “It’s just such a great learning experience for them to be able to understand the science behind it and then learning what we can do with it in the kitchen.”
Gutowsky said the students learned through hands-on experience by going out into the garden with some of the volunteers.
On May 17, the students harvested their vegetables and herbs and created a lunch menu. They invited members of the multiple organizations that had helped put together the program to enjoy the lunch with them. The menu was made up of chicken Caprese with mozzarella and tomatoes that were grown in the garden, rice pilaf with spring lemon, garden salad with creamy herb and vinaigrette complete with lemon berry tart made from scratch.
“Up until finding the program and the Ag Extension donating the funds to help get it started, we really had no way of getting it together so we really couldn’t have done it without them,” Gutowsky said. “From building to planting to finally enjoying the food, the kids were way more excited than I expected them to be and when they gave the guests a tour of the garden, they were just so proud of themselves.”
Now that the program has completed its first eight-week run, Gutowsky said she wants to start expanding it starting in the fall. Some students, even seniors who will have graduated by the time the summer begins, have even volunteered to tend to the garden throughout the summer.
“Students have committed to at least one week this summer to tend to it and then we’re hoping to add two more beds for two more classes,” she said. “We also hope to do a fall and spring garden so that will help us grow some different things and expand our knowledge even more.”