Fall 2023 MATC Green Roof Opening & Harvest!

A Little Peace of Green

MATC’s award-winning green roof is an energy-efficient oasis where students cultivate a sustainable future

There is a whole new world on top of the T Building on MATC’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus.

Instead of the usual industrial landscape of HVAC units, pipes and tiling, a garden grows on a section of the building’s third-floor roof. The green roof is a calm urban oasis with patches of greenery, welcoming benches, a dozen oversize planters and raised beds nurturing an assortment of herbs and other plants.

Completed in January 2023, the $1.3 million green roof covers more than 4,600 square feet and is publicly visible and accessible from a skywalk connecting the campus’ H and T buildings. The green roof and a small, publicly accessible park created near the T Building help manage nearly 24,000 gallons of stormwater every time it rains, according to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

The project, which was started in June 2022, included reinforcing the roof with new structural steel, replacing windows, and installing fire protection sprinklers, HVAC systems and electrical wiring.

In June 2023, the project was cited in a Green Luminary award given to the college by the MMSD. The honor recognizes exceptional green infrastructure design projects carried out by businesses, organizations and communities. These projects must benefit the city’s lakes, rivers and environment. MMSD and the Fund for Lake Michigan both contributed funding to the project.

MATC has a strong commitment to sustainability, including water reduction and protection, said Laura J. Tenpenny, MATC’s manager of energy. The college’s green roof stores water using sedum, a flowering plant commonly used for green roofs, along with paved stones and planters.

Students in the college’s Culinary Arts program grew herbs in the planters to illustrate the possibilities and potential yield of urban gardens. The herb garden sprouted and flourished thanks to compost converted from food waste generated by the college’s culinary classes.

The Culinary Arts program has been composting food waste, such as onion skins, egg shells, vegetable trimmings, and chicken, beef and fish bones, as well as paper products since

2016, said Jack Kaestner, an MATC Culinary Arts instructor.

The compost has had an impact beyond the herb garden — it was used to create new garden plots at the Mequon Campus and was donated and delivered to community gardens in Milwaukee.

Isaac Palmer, coordinator of MATC’s Landscape Services, prepared the soil and planted the seeds in the green roof’s herb garden last spring. Moving forward, culinary students will be in charge of the garden, Kaestner said.

Students will dress the beds with finished compost in the spring, plant more herbs, tend and weed the beds, and then harvest the mature plants in the fall to use as fresh ingredients.

“They will get to see the full circle — from food waste to food, from garbage to a garden,” Kaestner said. “It’s really a learning experience on multiple levels.”

Transformations -annual-report-spring-2024 pg. 28

Freshly harvested herbs are served in Cuisine Restaurant, a student-run culinary lab/class.

Jack Kaestner teaches sustainability and Contemporary Restaurant Cuisine, the culinary capstone class, in the two-year culinary arts program at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Before teaching, he was the Executive Chef at Oconomowoc Lake Club for 20 years. His education includes a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, New York) and a BS in Food Science/Food Service Administration from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, including additional meat and animal science studies. He was a founding board member of the Slow Food Wisconsin SE. 

Chef Jack believes buying local food not only gives you fresher, tastier, and unique fare but also gives you a face to the grower and a sense of place where it was grown. He feels the importance of the food served is not just the final product or the fresh local food but the relationship that develops with his clientele and farmers. This relationship changes food from a homogenized commodity to something of value.




Small Plates

Cream of Buttercup Squash, hydroponic greens and herbs, shaved cured egg yolks, parmesan cheese, champagne vinaigrette 5, v gf

House Salad, mixed local greens, Duchess Bronzee pears, ClockShadow chevre, toasted walnuts, champagne vinaigrette 6, v gf

Charcuterie, Driftless Provisions Saucisson Sec, Clock Shadow Creamery Capriko cheese, house pickles, rosemary crackers 6

Pork Gyoza House made, Wisconsin Meadows grass-fed pork, sesame ginger sauce 6


Pan-seared Atlantic farm-raised Salmon*, cippolini onion, mushroom, and pea risotto, lemon beurre blanc 15, gf

Braised Pork Shoulder, Zestar apples, sauteed green beans, wild rice pilaf, radish microgreens 15, gf

Grain Bowl, brown rice and red quinoa pilaf, roasted sweet potato, red onion, dried cranberries, Clock Shadow chevre, toasted pecans, maple dijon vinaigrette 12, v gf

Grilled Top Sirloin Steak*, glazed Full Harvest Farm carrots and parsnips, Oven-roasted Red Prairie potatoes, Bordelaise sauce 16, gf

Desserts & Ice Creams

Cheesecake, strawberry sauce, cinnamon streusel 6, v

Ice Creams & Sorbets 4, v gf
Vanilla, Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Green Apple, Pineapple

*Consuming undercooked or raw foods of animal origin may increase your risk of foodborne illness




Building Flavor Grassfed beef shank and grits cooking Demo

We are rediscovering flavor from the ground up!

Restorative agriculture and the movement to make it happen is

Grassland ag. 2.0 UW Madison

Grassland ag. 2022 Summer Meeting

New Grassfed Consumers Guide/June 2022 

Agri-View July 2022 Biodiversity, resilience critical for future of Agriculture

Homemade grassfed burgers
Berry Crostata with pastured butter!

Jack also participated in a 3-year SARE Sustainable Agriculture, Research, and Education project:

Summary – Working with Farmers, Dairy Processors, and Chefs to Build a Market for Grass-Fed Milk

Local food – chef consultant for the SARE (Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education) National Conference helped develop three days of menus for 600 attendees that utilized 90% locally sourced food. Also, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.

Jack first encountered buying directly from farmers in 1983 while working at Chez Michel in Madison, where they featured on-premise herb gardens and local produce from area farms. From these simple roots grew a lifelong passion for supporting sustainable local agriculture and promoting it within the community.