Most of us go to the Shedd Aquarium to see the animals, but did you know that they have an organic garden on the roof? The four acre garden has over 1000 species of plant, including many edible ones, like potatoes, kale, and tomatoes.
Yesterday, I was lucky to be invited to the Shedd’s first Saplings and Sampling event, where visitors were given both a tour of the garden and a sampling of the Shedd’s fresh produce. We spoke with Christie and Julie, the Shedd’s horticulturalists about the garden. They said the Shedd has had gardens since 1991, but only since the 2000s have the gardens been organic.
The Shedd is committed to sustainability. By growing pesticide-free food on its property, the aquarium is able to limit its reliance on outside food shipments. They want their garden to demonstrate to aquarium visitors that by growing your own food, you can cut your CO2 footprint. If your food comes from your roof instead of from 100 miles away via truck, you save gas, water, and energy!
At the Saplings and Samplings event, we tried four different recipes made with food from the Shedd’s organic garden. First, we had a yummy kale salad while standing right next to the kale plants our food came from! Garden-to-table!
We ate spring rolls made with veggies from the garden.
My favorites were the vegan cauliflower “wings” made with Shedd-grown cauliflower. I ate so many of these and am going to try recreating them at home. If I succeed, I’ll let you know.
We topped it off with zucchini bread cupcakes made with zucchini from the garden.
All of these bites were great examples of how easy it is to incorporate locally grown food into everyday recipes. Much of the garden’s food goes to homeless shelters, is served at Shedd events, or is sent home with employees, but humans aren’t the only ones enjoying the Shedd’s produce! Many of the Shedd’s animals enjoy a good, organic veggie meal, too!
It was so much fun to meet Turtle Number One (I kid you not, this is his name) and explore the Shedd’s secret garden. Next, I want to travel to Revolution Brewing to try the beer they make with hops grown in the Shedd garden!!!
The garden is on a roof ledge right behind the accessible entrance, where the man and fish statue is. It is right next to the outdoor “Stingray Touch” exhibit, so if you venture out to pet a stingray, peek over into the garden. This awesome sustainability effort at the Shedd should not be kept a secret!