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. The project started in 2010, when it was originally housed next to the employee RV Park.
Since its inception, 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 fruits and 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 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.