Plot blooms, produces healthy options

By Dan Hardin, Advocate Staff

The garden maintained by the culinary arts department and volunteers exemplifies the self-sustainability that the department emphasizes.

Culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes said he gets help from Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King, student volunteers and culinary arts students.

The garden produces vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumber, jalapeños, squash, peas, cabbage, onions, corn, carrots, collards and habaneros.

There are also herbs like basil, thyme, mint and oregano, and apple, pear and plum trees.

All of the garden options provide a healthy bounty for Pronto and the Aqua Terra Grill.

The fruits and vegetables are used to prepare food to serve to Contra Costa College students.

The Culinary Garden is northeast of the old Three Seasons Restaurant near the Applied Arts Building, nestled on a hillside that borders Campus Drive and occupies approximately forty-five hundred square feet of land.

The garden has been terraced off into four sections, one above the other with two sets of wooden stairs, resembling railroad ties, between them.

Sharkes said since he started the garden seven years ago in 2010 it has grown in size.

He said he plans to continue developing the garden despite it being much further from Aqua Terra than it was from the Three Seasons Restaurant.

Fisher said, “The food the garden produces is picked, consumed and any waste is returned to the garden through composting.”

The waste food is mixed with manure and other decomposing matter to be used as fertilizer and to condition the soil at the garden, making the garden’s work an ecologically friendly cycle.

King said his department distributes the tools to the volunteers, but the garden is the product of Sharkes’ vision and foresight.

King and his staff are also responsible for maintaining the irrigation drip system that distributes water into the Culinary Garden with minimum waste.