Onsite Restaurant Farms

Restaurants with roots

Restaurants across the country are now boasting farm to table fare on their menus, sourced from local farms or, increasingly, a farm of their own. But not all can present their patrons with the farm just outside the restaurant doors. Restaurants with integrated onsite farms invite diners beyond the table to the garden beds and chicken hutches that contribute to their meal.

So what’s the big deal about having a restaurant farm onsite? To answer this question, we looked to two restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area that offer a tangible connection between the food that comes out of the kitchen and its origins in the ground.

Nick’s Cove

Nick's Cove Restaurant Onsite FarmOn a memorable morning, the kitchen of Nick’s Cove bustled with excitement as the first eggs from its onsite farm were brought in, still warm. The staff experienced a feeling that could never be sparked from receiving a carton of eggs from one of their local farms, no matter how delicious. Simply scrambled by executive chef, Austin Perkins, each member enjoyed a bite of the first fruits of a dream to create their restaurant’s food from start to finish. Just across the street, nestled amidst the restaurant’s adjoining cottages, lies their three-acre terraced farm overlooking the pristine waters of Tomales Bay.

Nick's Cove Restaurant Onsite Farm

This small farm also serves to educate the community, and engage patrons, in how food is produced. Nick’s welcomes local schools to visit, teaching students about composting, how to grow food, and even includes a cooking demo by the chef. Over the past year the site has blossomed from a bare hillside into prolific garden beds and a chicken house, which supplies not just produce, eggs and herbs for the restaurant but also decorative floral arrangements that can be found in their guest houses.

Perches for birds of prey and upcoming bat houses support animals that offer natural pest control, while resident farmer Ross Barlow has incorporated flowers that attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. Ross takes full advantage of what nature provides in lieu of external inputs. He even forages kelp that washes up on the shore adjacent to the farm for his compost.

Take a walk through their garden beds and you will come across their beautiful, feather footed chickens and roosters. However, there are a few classic white hens that you will notice are missing their beaks. This is because Nick’s Cove has also incorporated a few rescue chickens into their coop, saved from life in a factory farm. After their first season, Nick’s Cove no longer has to purchase certain vegetables and herbs, such as kale.

Mustards Grill

Named after the wild mustard flowers that bloom around this Napa Valley restaurant, Mustards Grill has sourced from its own onsite farm long before such a thing was popular. From just two acres of farmland outside the restaurant, Mustards Grill is able to source 20 percent of its kitchen’s needs year-round. Owner and executive chef Cindy Pawlcyn has over 30 years experience working and living in Napa Valley and draws her culinary inspiration from the seasonal produce that grows abundantly in their farm.

mustards-garden-5

The menu at Mustards Grill is planned in tandem with the farm’s harvests, offering patrons a celebration of that season’s fare. Picked just hours before serving, diners receive the full nutritional value of the produce that would otherwise be diminished through the length and conditions of transit. Organic veggies, fruits and herbs are picked when ripe and as needed, cutting out needless waste, which every restaurant kitchen battles with. It also ensures that every ingredient is at its peak flavor. Cutting out transit time also means a reduction in fuel and electricity expenditure as it eliminates the need to not only transport produce but refrigerate it as well, both during transit and at the restaurant.

Learn more

Start your own kitchen garden
Other restaurants that grow their own food
Mustards Grill website
Nick’s Cove website

Mustard’s photo credit: Alex Farnum

More SF Bay Area Food

Finding Locally Sourced Food: Where to eat in Point Reyes

Point Reyes National Seashore is famous for its stunning and diverse natural beauty, abundant wildlife and pristine waters. Only an hour's drive north of San Francisco, its coastal villages—from sunny Stinson Beach in the south to the famed oyster farms of Marshall along Tomales Bay—feel a world away. Join us for an insider's look at where to eat, stay and play in Point Reyes.

More Ethical Foods Restaurant & Chef Interviews

Too Good To Waste

Too Good To Waste: The Doggy Bag In Europe

A long-standing stigma attached to taking leftovers home has hindered British and European diners from tackling waste reduction at the restaurant table. Three new movements… Read more

Alchemy Raw Vegan Restaurant Ubud Bali

Shanti Allen of Alchemy Bali Raw Vegan Restaurant

Meet Shanti Allen, Executive Chef and founder of Alchemy, Ubud’s first completely raw vegan restaurant. Shanti meets me for our interview in a sundress and… Read more

sustainable restaurant

Serving Up Integrity In Sydney: Billy Kwong

Kylie’s bijoux restaurant is located in the Surry Hills neighborhood of Sydney, a once down-and-out corner of the city that has been reborn as a… Read more

Project Green Fork

Project Green Fork In Memphis

Margot McNeeley, founder of Project Green Fork in Memphis, Tennessee, talks to EthicalFoods.com about the challenges of helping restaurants move toward sustainable practices. Read more

Waterhouse Restaurant, London

Waterhouse Restaurant London

Waterhouse restaurant in London is anything but a one-dimensional concept. Not only does it offer a menu that emphasizes local and seasonal food; it also… Read more

Samantha Egelhoff L'etoile

L’Etoile

Long before it was fashionable to do so, Piper cultivated strong ties with small regional farmers and their products, from heirloom vegetables and sustainably raised… Read more

Chef Tory Miller

Your Chef and Climate Change: Tory Miller of Graze

As Executive Chef for both Graze and L’Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin, Tory Miller chooses only the finest farm-fresh ingredients from his local producers.  At his… Read more

uncommon ground restaurant chicago rooftop farm

Chicago Sustainable Restaurant: Uncommon Ground

Uncommon Ground is simply a comfortable neighborhood joint—one where an ethos of sustainability is woven into every aspect. Imagine a world where every corner tavern… Read more

chef william dissen market place restaurant

Your Chef And Climate Change: William Dissen of Market Place Restaurant

In an interview with EthicalFoods.com, Chef Dissen discusses his efforts to source and promote local, sustainably caught seafood. Read more

sustainable sushi

Sustainable Seafood: Bamboo Sushi

The restaurant takes pride in its impeccably sourced fish. Bamboo Sushi works in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Marine Stewardship Council to… Read more

Local Sustainable Menu at Nick's Cove

Eating Local: Diners Weigh The Cost

Where does the cost of a meal intersect with the value of eating clean, sustainable food? Do we bring our values with us when we… Read more

Nick's Cove Bay Overlook credit Diana Gil Osorio

Sourcing Local: Nick’s Cove

Originally a fish shack and roadhouse, Nick’s underwent a major renovation in 2007, emerging as an elegant waterside restaurant featuring seasonal farm-to-table and sea-to-table California… Read more