How to Bring a Green Thumb into the Restaurant or Bar

While having a full-fledged garden in the restaurant often isn’t feasible, there is a ton of ways to have fresh herbs and produce available on a smaller scale. As the locavore movement gains steam, more and more people are enticed by the offering of fresh, local grub. Even the bartending scene has seen an increased demand for fresh herbs and spices and mixologists country-wide are looking for new ways to get creative with fresh produce. Here are some ideas to help implement the taste of freshly picked goods into your restaurant.

Start with Small Scale Restaurant Gardening

From vertical walls to rooftop gardens, from window boxes to table-side planters, it’s relatively easy to find a little growing space somewhere right in-house. There are several urban greenworks groups available who are more than willing to offer some insight and startup assistance to get you going if you need help. The biggest challenges you will face will be keeping the garden looking good if it’s going to be visible to customers, and getting someone on board who has the desire and ability to maintain the project.

Selecting the Right Goods to Grow in Your Restaurant Garden

Odds are you don’t have a ton of extra time to devote to your new garden space, so make sure to pick plants that are easy to grow and require minimal care. Fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and basil are particularly well suited for such requirements. Steer clear of finickier produce such as cucumbers, peppers, and melons which can be more prone to pests and diseases.

Also, pick plants that naturally grow in the season and climate you’re in. If you’re in a cold climate, focusing on growing your in-house produce only during the growing season is just fine. If one of your bartenders particularly loves to invent signature cocktails, let them pick the fresh herbs they want to have at hand and take responsibility for their care. The fact that many herbs are aromatic can create an additionally pleasant experience for your customers as well.

What If In-House Gardening Simply isn’t Feasible in My Restaurant?

If growing a few key ingredients on your own simply isn’t a feasible plan but you’re still interested in having fresh produce available, there’s still a few options open to you. You could, of course, simply hit up the local farmers’ markets every few days and select the fresh herbs and produce you’d like to have on hand. Even better, you could partner with an individual farmer and set up an arrangement where they will custom grow whatever you’d like to have in your restaurant. This is often mutually beneficial because you don’t have to deal with the mess of trying to garden yourself and the farmer is often happy to have a bit of steady income to rely on.

Plus, doing it this way gives you the added benefit of having the farmer’s expertise – so you can get those fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers from someone who has the setup and knowledge to deal with their more specific growing requirements.

Whether you would like to see a full range of fresh produce on the menu or simply want to have a few sprigs of mint or cilantro to add to your drinks, growing some greens in-house can be a fun and easy way of adding fresh, unique, and local flavor to your establishment.

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