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Shedd’s organic gardens brim with colorful native flowers and heirloom edibles. But did you know our horticulturists Julie Taylor and Charlotte Blome grow flowers, fruits and vegetables for many of the animals in our care? Produce from our vegetable gardens add important variety and enrichment to the regular food on the menus for our animals.

Two stunning bright red macaws lift their large, blue-tipped wings in Shedd's Oceanarium.

Speaking of parrots, dill is used as scent enrichment for them.

According to Jordan Lyznicki, senior aquarist in Amazon Rising, when it comes to early summer produce, leafy greens including lettuces and Swiss chard are a favorite of the turtles, pansies are a big hit with the tortoises, and strawberries are favored by the parrots.

Yellow-footed tortoise Omelette chows down on some pansies from Shedd's gardens.

While these foods are delicious straight out of the garden the way our animals eat them, we thought it would be fun to share a few ways our Shedd horticulture team enjoys preparing some of these foods at home with just a few basic ingredients and a little imagination.

Salad greens and lemon slices on a white plate.

Photo by: Photo by Charlotte Blome

Grilled lettuce salad

It turns out that romaine lettuce can take the heat and is wonderful grilled, then chopped and dressed with fresh lemon juice and olive oil (or whatever oil you have on hand). Leaving the leaves attached, rinse your lettuce, then simply brush oil on the outer leaves and grill until slightly wilted. A grill pan in your kitchen will work too. Chop and toss with lemon. Balsamic vinegar is a good alternative if you don’t have lemon on hand. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sliced strawberries and yoghurt in a blue bowl.

Photo by: Photo by Charlotte Blome

A hawk headed parrot lifts a strawberry to its beak.

One of the hawk-headed parrots in Amazon Rising enjoys a strawberry fresh from Shedd's garden.

Strawberries with brown sugar and Greek yogurt

Top and quarter your rinsed berries, then toss with a scant amount of brown sugar—just enough to draw out the juice. Let it all sit for up to an hour. Blend more brown sugar to taste with Greek or other plain yogurt (cream or even melted vanilla ice cream will work too). Drizzle on top and garnish with mint or edible flowers.

A cool glass of lemonade sitting in a garden.

Photo by: Photo by Charlotte Blome

Sea otter Ellie gnaws on a krill-filled ice cube.

Sea otter Ellie prefers krill to dill in her ice cubes.

Dill ice cubes

A wonderful way to preserve all sorts of fresh garden herbs for later use is to fill ice trays with the hand-torn leaves, cover with water and freeze. Use frozen dill in soups and pickles or try it in your lemonade for a refreshing twist—just in time for hot weather!

Charlotte Blome, horticulture team