The Harvest Dinner was a massive success with many local businesses and community members attending the event. We were happy to have a local food blogger and veteran Green Heart Buddy, Elise DeVoe of Cookin’ with Booze, at the event. Below is a recap of her experience at the 7th Annual Harvest Dinner.
What is the Green Heart Project?
The Green Heart Project is a farm-to-school program that utilizes in-school gardens as a teaching tool. During the school day and in the after school program, the curriculum from the school is weaved into the day’s lesson in a hands-on fashion that the kids truly enjoy. The students have the opportunity to plant the garden themselves and learn about where their produce comes from. At the end of every lesson, the children do a taste test of something from the garden, which is a great way to expose them to new fruits and vegetables that they may not have the opportunity to try otherwise.
Last semester, I was lucky enough to become a Green Heart Buddy volunteer for the Green Heart Project at Sullivan’s Island Elementary School. One of my favorite lessons we did was about the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash), which I vaguely remember learning about in elementary school, but I wasn’t lucky enough to actually see it in action in a school garden. In this particular lesson, the kids planted the corn, beans, and squash themselves and then afterwards they got to taste a delicious succotash featuring all three ingredients. This lesson was especially important for me because I was learning right along with the kids (as I often did).
Truth be told, I was a very picky eater as a kid (I’ve come a long way since then thankfully). I was so surprised by the willingness of the kids to try everything they were offered without much contest. While I was there, I witnessed the kids try a green smoothie, chia seed pudding, homemade pickles, local honey, and the Three Sisters Succotash. When I was a kid, I would have maybe tried the honey and refused to eat everything else. It made me so happy to see the Green Heart Project at work in these kids by encouraging them to try new things while also teaching them about the importance of knowing where their food comes from.
The celebration of a year’s worth of hard work in the garden and in the classroom has to culminate with an exceptional dinner and all of the businesses involved definitely delivered. As I always love to do, I got samples of everything, which ended up being a hefty plate of food.
My plate featured your classic barbecue essentials: pulled pork, grilled chicken, potato salad, collard greens, and succotash. All of these items are definitely classics, but it was great to see that each restaurant had their own unique interpretation of each dish. I have to say that the best thing I tasted was definitely the potato salad from Burke County High School Culinary Arts. Some potato salads can end up being bland, but this potato salad had a great zing to it thanks to the addition of dijon mustard.
The pulled pork had a very tangy sauce as well, which is authentic to a classic Carolina vinegar-based sauce. The chicken was fall of the bone moist and had a smoky flavor to it. The sauteed greens from Harold’s Cabin were unique because they had a pop of lemon flavor, which gave them a fresher flavor than you normally expect from stewed greens. Lastly, the succotash from Butcher & Bee was just how I remembered it when we tasted during the program: sweet, fresh, and a little tangy. To wash it all down, I had a refreshing Watermelon Agua Fresca courtesy of the Juice Joint (pictured above).
Granna’s Gourmet Pickles
One of the stations I was assigned to during the Harvest Dinner was working with the fine ladies of Granna’s Gourmet Pickles. I assisted with handing out free samples (and luckily I got to have a few myself). I was so glad to help out at this particular station because first of all I love pickles, but secondly and more importantly, Granna’s Gourmet Pickles are hand cut, hand packed, and there are absolutely no preservatives. Not only are they all-natural, the produce they use is local.
I love finding businesses like Granna’s Gourmet who place their emphasis on quality products for their customers. I loved these pickles so much that I had to take a jar home with me. I got the spicy bread and butter pickles because it really is the best of both worlds with the hint of heat at the end of the sweet.
Lowcountry Street Grocery
The Lowcountry Street Grocery is a mobile Farmer’s Market that makes fresh produce accessible to all Charleston residents. At the event, attendees were able to purchase a ticket at the front gate that would entitle them to a bag of groceries from the Lowcountry Street Grocery. Their mission is similar to that of the Green Heart Project in that they make fresh produce more accessible and approachable for the community as a whole.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for the Green Heart project, follow this link. You can help out in the garden as a Crop Mobber, you can become a Green Heart Buddy, or you can volunteer in the Cooking Matters class. There are plenty of ways to get involved and it is a blast working with these kiddos!