The Farm to Table movement that was once a mission has become a standard for restaurants. It is now easier to find larger corporations and franchises that boast billboards and menus advertising their relationship with local farmers. This adoption suggest that the fad is here to stay. Accomplishing this pursuit has pushed restaurant’s and chef’s ambitions one step further. New goals focus on developing an even more intimate relationship with hyper local that has been termed Seed to Table. Staying on top of these trends can feel like an impossible task for places that are operating in limited or urban spaces. Here are some ideas that can help any restaurant incorporate this sustainability practice along with brightening the space and dishes without having to build a small farm.
A patio is an opportune space to take full advantage for growing. There is a wide array of planter boxes that have been designed to outline the boundaries of your patio. Use edible plants dually as an ornamental display throughout the season. Keep in mind that the quantities may not meet the demands of your bulk needs such as rosemary and thyme so think about specialty crops instead. Edible flowers such as pansy, marigold, calendula, and dianthus can all be grown in compact spaces. There are specialty herbs that can be used as a garnish to add a pop of flavor to a dish. Purple basil, chervil, or shiso are not always as easy to find in larger increments or are usually at a higher price point. Use these unique options to help fill in spaces with texture and greenery.
If there is no access to an outlined patio, that’s ok! Indoor pots can be fun through the colder months and even in the summer. If there are shelves consider a pot with trailing nasturtiums for the leaves and the flowers. It may be fun to grow chamomile, tarragon, or lemon balm near the bar so that they can be harvested and incorporated into a seasonal beverage program. Consider large planters outside that frame the front or back doors which can be filled with different varieties of mint or lemongrass. These small touches can shift the environment to a warm and interactive space. It fosters a setting that can open creative dialogue between staff and guests converting first time diners into regulars.
Including greenery in a restaurant space is not something new but incorporating crops will help create a backdrop for the ambiance. Form and function can come together by adding beauty that can be woven into your surroundings. All of the plants mentioned can be harvested weekly while continuing to grow through the season. Encouraging people to sit amongst the crops will provide inspiration, tranquility, and connection to the dining experience. This will allow the staff and guests to participate with their food as they enjoy it on their plate or in a cocktail. Seed to table doesn’t need to be overwrought or spacious, it can be simple and intertwined charm.