How Restaurants are using Urban Farming to Improve their Menus

How Restaurants are using Urban Farming to Improve their Menus

If you’ve only heard about urban farming in the context of growing herbs on window sills or inside apartment at home, you might be surprised to find that many restaurants in the big cities are turning to urban farming solutions to source the freshest ingredients for their dishes.  Whether these farms are literally on the tops of their roofs or in nearby vacant lots, urban farming is a growing trend that is allowing chefs to obtain the freshest produce, while reducing their costs.

Reconnecting with Food

All restaurants can stand to benefit from urban farming.  By growing their own or sourcing from a local urban farm, they can actually save a ton of money in the long-term.  That’s because the associated costs with purchasing produce from out of town and paying for the shipping costs much more than the start-up costs of growing it in-house.  Not only that, the ingredients that you can locally source will be the freshest possible and of a higher quality.

Restaurants can market this local garden freshness as a healthier experience (because it is), thereby increasing revenues and customer traffic.  There are other hidden benefits to growing an urban farm for restaurants too, like reducing the amount of waste because you only harvest what you need.

For some real examples of urban farming restaurants in the big cities, check out these locations:

Windy City Frontera Grill

Chicago is big on urban farming.  There are a number of restaurants that are taking advantage of the rooftop real estate for urban agriculture.  One of the most prominent restaurants doing this is the Frontera Grill.  The owner, Rick Bayless, uses EarthBoxes to grow nearly all the vegetables needed to make the restaurant’s salsa dishes.  Nearly 1,000 lbs of tomatoes and peppers, to be exact.

O’Hare Urban Garden

We take a look at another place in Chicago that is leading the way for urban farming, right in the middle of the great O’Hare airport.  This is a fully-fledged aeroponic garden, growing large amounts of vegetables and herbs for the nearby restaurants every day.  This is the first of its kind in the world, towers of produce growing the ingredients that will end up on your plate at either the Tortas Frontera, Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi, Blackhawks Restaurant and Tuscany.

Bell, Book & Candle

The Big Apple is another city with lots of activity on the urban farming front.  From community gardens to rooftop agriculture, you’ll find plenty of projects underway.  The Bell, Book, & Candle also takes interest in the aeroponics solution that O’Hare uses, incorporating 60 of them on their roof.  It works perfectly for their restaurant’s needs.  They can grow over 60% of their produce and herbs without needing to rely on a full-time farmer or sourcing outside to save on costs.

The technology is ripe for the picking.  Urban farms are highly efficient and fool-proof ways of growing your own produce without needing to have a green thumb.  Chefs can focus on their craft, rather than learning how to grow the hard way, saving them precious time and money, while increasing the quality of their dishes.

 

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