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Flatiron’s New Kitchen Garden Will Receive The Tender Care It Needs

by | Nov 2, 2021

Restauranteurs Schutz and Orlando in the new garden (Bill Giduz photo)

The next time you order a salad at Flatiron restaurant downtown, the cooks may just step out the back door and pick some for you. That’s possible due to the construction recently of a “Kitchen Garden” by professional gardener and Davidson resident, Sara Rubens. The edible greenery is growing in four raised beds adjoining South Street, and is being tended now by Rubens on a contractual basis.

A sign informs passersby of the project. The garden features four raised beds. (Bill Giduz photo)

The 20’ by 20’ plot has a checkered history. It was shaded by two huge trees for decades when Stowe’s Exxon occupied the plot. When local developer Michael Orlando purchased the lot in 2009, he tried to save the trees. But they were too damaged by the construction to survive and were cut down. For the past few years, Orlando has tried to grow something attractive in the plot, but the efforts were largely unsuccessful.

Rubens said the “kitchen garden” concept was promoted by Thomas Jefferson and refers to a small plot of edible greens close enough to the cooks in the kitchen that its bounty can be quickly picked and served on demand.

Rubens got involved in the project In her walks downtown, when she passed by what she called “that sad little piece of earth,” and determined last spring to

Orlando’s niece has the honor of cutting the ribbon (Bill Giduz photo)

improve it. She had recently launched a horticulture business called “Seed to Sanctuary,” aimed at helping would-be gardeners at any and all of the stages of gardening. “It’s the coaching model” she said.

She does all it takes to help gardeners succeed, from just planning the layout to taking advantage of the topology and sun, to preparing the soil, to maintaining plant growth, and to harvesting.“

She proposed her services to chef Bill Schutz and building owner Michael Orlando, offering to transform the empty plot of land into a thriving garden they can be proud of, share with the community, and use some of the bounty in the Flatiron kitchens. The proprietors approved, and last fall Sara built and planted four 6×8-foot raised beds and planted them with a wide variety of edible plants and herbs,  including kale, green beans, swiss chard, basil, rosemary, thyme, and lavender.

Flatiron chef Bill Schutz with a basket of greens for restaurant diners (Bill Giduz photo)

Rubens said, “With the growing interest of consumers wanting to eat seasonally, know the source of their food, reduce the amount of wasteful packaging and consumption of chemicals, the ‘Grow Your Own Food’ movement is expanding.”

A small group of friends and family gathered at the garden recently to celebrate its completion, which includes a tiny library station and bench where gardeners can overlook their efforts. Chef Bill filled a basket with greens to take to the kitchen for someone’s dinner.

The arrival of winter will force limited plant growth, but Rubens has plans to stage educational sessions for the colder months. This month she will

Sara Rubens talks with Orlando and Schutz (Bill Giduz photo)

present ten principles for successful gardening. In December she will teach youngsters to make infusions they can give as holiday gifts. January will feature the importance of composting, and at some point she will show grown-ups how herbs can be used in making cocktails.

For more information on Seed to Sanctuary visit [email protected].

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