• Student gardeners inspire recipes for holiday publication


  • Program demonstrates how environmental learning can build vibrant communities

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Originally conceived as a creative way to encourage customers to use their kitchen appliances, the Duke Energy Recipe Book has grown to become a favorite staple for many of the company’s 8.2 million customers.

Distributed annually in time for the holidays, each edition features a different theme. Over the last two years, the recipe book has featured local restaurants and community organizations across the company’s territories celebrating unique efforts to tackle the impacts of the pandemic.

This year’s offering, “The Grassroots Garden,” began distribution on Dec. 11 via newsletters to Duke Energy’s customers and was inspired by students at Paw Creek Elementary in Charlotte, N.C., and curated by chefs at Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte campus.

This collaboration resulted in a rich story about sustainability and the environment, while supporting Duke Energy’s goal of building vibrant communities.

The Duke Energy Foundation sponsored the design and installation of an Outdoor Learning Lab with Out Teach, a Duke Energy partner and a national nonprofit built to inspire and prepare today’s elementary students to become the next generation of fearless innovators.   

“As a native North Carolinian, some of my fondest memories come from shopping at the Carrboro Farmers Market to create our family meals,” said Katherine Neebe, Duke Energy’s chief sustainability and philanthropy officer. “I also learned the importance of access to fresh food. When people have access to local, seasonal ingredients it not only provides nourishment for their body but also supports local farmers and their families as well as advances the sustainability ecosystem. In short, it helps strengthen communities.”

The program included planting, maintaining and harvesting fruits and vegetables in the outdoor learning lab at Paw Creek. Each phase provided an opportunity to see how the students engaged with their outdoor environments and applied topics like reading, science and math to real-life, relevant experiences.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to incorporate environmental learning into their curriculum. It allowed our students to learn about the value of sustainability and therefore we were grateful for this collaboration,” said Paw Creek Principal Danielle Belton.

The final phase of the project culminated with students visiting kitchens at Johnson & Wales University, where two lead chefs taught them lessons about sustainable food practices and exposed them to professional culinary skills and careers.

To engage the students even further, the chefs and students used ingredients grown in the gardens to “test out” several recipes featured in this year’s book. They were also able to get a sneak peek of the set and production of the recipe book, which included film, food styling and professional photography.

“Imparting knowledge to young people by involving them in a project like this is an excellent way to grow both awareness of sustainability and a lifetime desire to be healthy for years to come,” said Chef Ashley McGee, one of the two Johnson & Wales University instructors who worked with students. “It was impressive to see students, at such a young age, have an appreciation for growing their own vegetables and an interest in learning how to use fresh produce to make nutritious meals.”   

This year’s digital book includes 24 recipes ranging from main entrees like Secret Ingredient Chili to sweets like Buttermilk Biscuits with Balsamic Fig Jam. For those interested in testing them in their home kitchens, visit the full list at duke-energy.com/2022Recipes.

Download footage and images here.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 28,000 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions from electricity generation by 2050. The company has interim carbon emission targets of at least 50% reduction from electric generation by 2030, 50% for Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 upstream and downstream emissions by 2035, and 80% from electric generation by 2040. In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear. 

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2022 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “World’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) provides academic instruction and support to more than 140,400 students across 181 schools in Mecklenburg County. CMS is the 17th largest school district in the nation and the second largest in North Carolina, with students from 184 countries of origin speaking 204 languages and dialects. The district offers an extensive range of magnet programs in 71 of its schools to nurture the talents of students who have interest and ability in specific areas. CMS also educates and supports students with learning and physical disabilities.

Johnson & Wales University

Founded in 1914, Johnson & Wales University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 8,000 graduate, undergraduate and online students at its campuses in Providence, Rhode Island and Charlotte, N.C. An innovative educational leader, the university offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts and sciences, business, engineering, food innovation, hospitality, nutrition, health and wellness. It also offers undergraduate programs in culinary arts, dietetics and design. JWU’s unique model provides students with the personalized attention, academic expertise and industry connections that inspire professional success and personal growth. The time students spend at JWU is nothing short of transformative, as demonstrated by career outcomes, expected earnings and economic mobility rankings. The university’s impact is global, with alumni in 125 countries pursuing careers worldwide.

Contact: Keith Richardson

24-Hour: 800.559.3853