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Seattle Central culinary student launches gardening program in the middle of Pike/Pine

IMG_0951Trey Philpot is wearing overalls. He is also merging the gap between biology and culinary students and inviting anybody else who wants to learn about urban gardening to join him at the Seattle Central’s Plant Sciences Lab on Boylston Ave.

Philpot, who grew up gardening in his hometown of Greenville, Alabama, began culinary school at Seattle Central in January. Shortly after starting, he launched Green Thumbs Up as a way to bridge the gap between growing food and cooking it.

“I found out that a lot of culinary students have no gardening experience at all,” Philpot said. “They’re from the city, from a place where that wasn’t something that they did.”

The plan is to grow about 400 individual edible plants from various herbs to fruits like cantaloupe and watermelon to vegetables including corn, beans, squash, radishes, onions, tomatoes, and cucumber. Philpot has also been working with international students who want to grow food from their home countries that they can’t find in stores. Having a large variety of plants will help to show people what can be grown in Seattle and on Capitol Hill and what plants look like in while they’re growing.

“I feel like it helps cooks if they know where the ingredients are coming from, what it looks like, how hard it is to grow or harvest or how easy it is to grow or harvest,” Philpot said.

Of his about 15 to 20 volunteers through the culinary school, they’re all novice gardeners.

The culinary students won’t be the only ones learning. They will also be teaching biology students how to cook the plants they grew.

“Why grow it if you can’t do something with it?” Philpot said.

The project also provides students in the two disciplines to make connections that could help them in their future careers.

Along with sprouts started inside, Green Thumbs Up is also prepping some beds behind the greenhouse and has herbs, garlic, collard greens, and strawberries growing in the front. They’ve also got a handicap accessible garden bed ready for plants. More will be planted soon and the gardens will be maintained year-round.

Philpot said there are plans to keep a record of what grows the best and how much produce is grown to calculate how much people can save by having urban gardens.

The hardest part of gardening isn’t the planting or weeding. It’s just getting up and doing it, Philpot told CHS.

“Gardening is very therapeutic. It’s so nice to just get in the garden,” Philpot said. “We’re here to help anywho who needs to learn a new skill. I mean who doesn’t need more skills?”

The Green Thumbs Up project is very casual. Philpot is at the greenhouse located on Boylston Ave between E Pine and E Olive St from about 10:30 AM until 3 PM on Mondays and Tuesdays. Students or area residents can drop into the public learning facility and see what’s growing in the lab, ask questions about planting their own gardens or pull some weeds.

For area residents looking for inspiration for their P-Patches or other garden beds, Philpot said the lab would be a great place to come.

“We’re getting more organized,” Philpot said. “…We’re trying to get everybody included. We’re going to try to bring in anyone and everyone that wants to learn because we all have valuable information to give.”

To learn more or get involved with Green Thumbs Up, stop by the lab or email [email protected] or tweet @Gr3enThumbsUp.

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5 years ago

Delighted to see that SCC is finally doing something with the greenhouse space. I was hoping for ornamental beauty, but will settle for practical beauty. “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”

Clint Philpot
Clint Philpot
5 years ago

Great article! Good luck Trey!