It’s the growing season!
It’s the growing season here at Beacon Hill, and our residents, neighbors and staff are busy tending our community gardens. And one of the best things about it is that much of the bounty ends up on our menus.
“The approach we take with the Garden Cafe and the dining service program is to serve as much fresh, local and whole foods as possible,” says Garden
Café Manager Maggie Thiel. “From May to October we produce a lot of our own in the community garden. It’s really an amazing opportunity for me as a chef who also loves to garden. We get to plant some interesting varieties that normally we wouldn’t be able to source easily.”
In the summer the kitchen staff use a wide variety of produce grown on the premises, including specialty herbs and tomato varieties for meals, grapes for jams and jellies, and as the seasons turn, applesauce made from our apple trees. Right now, the strawberries are the stars of the show.
“It lets us sculpt our menu in the moment,” Maggie says. “Sometimes we walk out there and we look at what’s around, what’s ripening, what’s coming into season — we pick things at their peak time and serve them at our peak time.”
Just this week, Maggie served up Moroccan Stuffed Quail, using fresh ingredients from the garden.
A Semi Boneless Quail (Wing and Leg Bone Attached) stuffed with an Exotic Rice Blend of Dried Cherries, Chicken Sausage, Wine, Persian Spices then Glazed with Apricots from Well’s Orchards. Served with Butter Roasted Candy Stripe Beets
Beyond the staff gardens, there are also 13 resident areas and nine plots tended by our Eastgate neighbors. These gardeners grow fruits, vegetables and flowers to share with family, friends and neighbors. Several residents have set up a small memorial cutting garden for a resident who recently passed, where they grow flowers for residents who are sick or for celebrations.
This is also the first year that the gardens will have two assistants — Rachel Warners and Abbey Hunter — who will help maintain the gardens and assist the gardeners with tasks like weeding and mulching.
The outdoor space is helpful while COVID-19 precautions are in place. Not only in the gardens, but also the paths and seating areas. The gazebo is an approved gathering place for visitors to spend time with their loved ones.
“The garden is an extension of the building of Beacon Hill, and I can’t say how much I like the community engagement part of it, Maggie says. “The residents have gotten to know the neighbors, and I see them helping each other; it’s a wonderful dynamic to watch.”