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  • Fresh salad leave Green oak in the Organic farm, selective focus, Young bright green lettuce salad growing in rocky ground.

    Sustainable Cuisine

Discover the Story of Sustainable Cuisine at Mt. Rushmore

Sustainable cuisine’s impacts don’t stop at environmental sustainability. One of the most significant and far-reaching effects of a commitment to sustainable cuisine is the multitude of ancillary impacts that sustainable food choices have on local economies and community development. Keeping food dollars local creates jobs, builds community, protects habitat, and maintains a farming and ranching heritage—all critical values in our rural communities.

To support continued market transformation and support such assets, Mount Rushmore National Memorial collaborates with regional agricultural vendors and cottage industries to incorporate local foods into menus, and participates in several programs to achieve quality and sustainability goals.

  • At Mount Rushmore, the percentage of our total food purchases made up of local or sustainable ingredients in 2018 was 66%. By 2025, we are committed to purchasing 70% of the food from local and/or sustainable sources. At Mount Rushmore we continue our interest in developing a sustainable food culture in South Dakota and in contributing to a healthier community.
  • All of our dining menus utilize icons to highlight items that are sustainable choices, gluten-free, healthy choices, vegetarian, organic, and local. We regularly refresh our menus to allow for seasonal rotation of menu items based on the freshest available ingredients.
  • As part of the Company’s commitment to building gateway economies, we continue to help develop a sustainable food culture in South Dakota by procuring inventory from communities in and around the Black Hills.
  • We collaborate with Black Hills Food Hub to coordinate the purchase and delivery of fresh food from local farmers to Carvers’ Café. The Black Hills Food Hub has expanded from the northern Black Hills to the entire region, due in part to our commitment to sourcing more food from local growers.
  • Here at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, we encourage visitors to take care of their health. For that reason 40% of our beverage categories have no added sugar.
  • Xanterra at Mount Rushmore follows Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program guidelines and only purchases seafood listed as “best choice” and “good alternatives.

Our Presidential Garden
Xanterra’s Landfill Diversion Program at Mount Rushmore National Monument

The Xanterra employees at Mount Rushmore have green thumbs! In addition to serving visitors at Carvers’ Marketplace and the Mount Rushmore gift shops, they also maintain a 1,500 square foot garden in the town of Keystone South Dakota.

Since its inception in 2010, The Presidential Garden has produced 5,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. The project not only provides healthy and sustainable produce for employees and customers to enjoy, it also helps us to prevent over 10,000 pounds of food scraps from our kitchen and employee dining room from going into the landfill each year! Instead, we use the scraps to create compost.

We collect the scraps, with the exception of meat, bones and plastic, in large composting tubs and add sawdust from our friends at Dahl’s Chainsaw Art. The result is a lovely organic fertilizer that provides nutrition for our vegetables. This nutrient-rich fertilizer also allows us to grow plants without the use of herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

In 2015, we established an exciting partnership with the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants at Monticello, the former president’s primary residence and plantation. He used the gardens at Monticello to grow the edible and decorative plants he had collected from around the world.

Monticello donated seeds that were grown in the original Jefferson garden, or similar varieties, including: early blood turnip-rooted beets, early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, long red cayenne pepper, white eggplant, pattypan squash, pocket melons, thyme, spearmint, lemon balm, African marigold, and calendula.

In 2017, Our Presidential Garden was introduced to the South Dakota Central States Fair, winning several ribbons including 1st place for zucchini, green peas, and lettuce; and 2nd place for carrots, green onion, and rhubarb. The presidential produce won even more awards at the fair in 2018 and 2019.

The Presidential Garden at Mount Rushmore is another way we’ve made history come alive for our guests. It’s also an example of how we strive to live up to our mission to provide “Legendary Hospitality with a Softer Footprint.”

Our Hydroponic Greenhouse
In 2019 Xanterra added an on-site greenhouse to complement the existing garden and take the concept of local cuisine a step further. It is located on the roof of the gift shop, which is connected to Carvers’ Café. Hydroponic equipment is being used to grow lettuce and tomatoes.