San Antonio Botanical Garden

Culinary Garden BCMG Docent Program

By Nancy Mills, Bexar County Master Gardener

June 2023

In 2015, the San Antonio Botanical Garden implemented an 8-acre expansion, featuring a Culinary Garden with an outdoor teaching kitchen, which was completed in 2017.  Seasonal plants, including vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, inspire a great deal of interest, so the garden is open to the public to wander through the beds. The San Antonio Botanical staff provide “pop up” food events to share recipes with the public, many of them using the garden plants for the recipes.

A Bexar County Master Gardener Docent Program was identified by the AgriLife Extension Service and the SABOT Board to assure the Culinary Garden’s success. The BCMGs were tasked to provide volunteers to share their science-based knowledge of gardening, Earth-Kind principles, and plant selection.  Docents are trained twice a year by Andrew Labay, Head Horticulturist, who shares the seasonal information about the fall and spring plants.

Docents will tell you that one of the biggest perks of volunteering in the Culinary Garden is interacting with visitors from around the nation, as well as locally and statewide.  Visitors are fascinated with the many fruits and vegetables in this area.  Their questions range from: “What is this plant?” to “How can I grow this at home?”

Docents enjoy the interactions and the opportunities to share their knowledge with the public. The program has been a favorite volunteer opportunity. Sheri McShane, a docent volunteer from the beginning of its inception, has this to say about being a docent, “It is fascinating to interact with these people and listen to their stories.  I never leave the Culinary Garden without learning something new about plants, people, or life in general.”

So, when you come by the SABOT Culinary Garden, look for the volunteers with blue aprons. They will be glad to share their knowledge about the plants in the garden!

All photos by author