Story by Ruksana Hussain
Farm-to-table dining is a term most popularly used to describe restaurants that source ingredients from local or regional producers—in such relationships, the executive chef proudly sources ingredients directly from food producers (from farmers to winemakers, ranchers to cheese makers, and so on). It’s an arrangement that can yield fresh results.
But you can get even closer to the farm.
Several farms across the U.S. offer on-location dining opportunities. It’s a foodie experience that can’t be beat for freshness. Join farmers as chefs use just-harvested ingredients to create memorable meals. You not only get to taste what’s locally grown but you’ll also have a chance to see where that food came from and the people who tend the herds and fields.
Here are a few mouth-watering on-farm dining options to add to your foodie travel must-do list.
Hopewell, New Jersey
Since 2015, Brick Farm Tavern has offered farm-to-table dining at the 1800s farm house on Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, New Jersey. Animals are sustainably raised and pastured on the 800-acre farm that was established by the owners with the mission to treat all animals ethically as well as encourage guests to learn about farming and farm practices.While you can indulge in dinner, lunch and happy hour, and even sip local craft brews at the bar, the five-course tasting menu with wine pairings is recommended as the best way to experience the local bounty best representative of the season.
For elegant farm-to-table dining in a country house, head to Elderslie in central Kansas. Started by a brother and sister team in 2010, the farm has a creamery that produces cheese using goats’ milk from animals raised on site. In 2012 the siblings began hosting casual dinners on the farm, which led to breakfast and lunch on the patio at the Bramble Café. Formal dinners are also available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in three dining rooms decorated with black walnut from the farm’s woodworks division. Expect dishes inspired by seasonal produce.
Three Oaks, Michigan
An organic farm in southwest Michigan, Granor Farm began vegetable production in 2007 and now boasts more than 100 varieties of herbs, flowers and grains. Taste of Granor farmhouse dinners are a big draw and showcase produce grown on the farm. Chef Abra Berens plans and prepares all meals and presents each multi-course experience family style on long communal tables. Dinner guests are treated to a tour of the farm.
For a luxe farm-to-table dining experience, head to the Inn at Dos Brisas in Texas Hill Country (a short drive from Houston or Austin). This elegant Spanish country manor offers Rela & Chateaux luxury on a family ranch. The 313-acre resort houses Texas’ only Forbes five-star dining experience. This award-winning establishment elegantly serves produce from the organic gardens and greenhouse on custom china. While here you can also enjoy a variety of equestrian activities, as it’s also home to the second-largest privately-owned indoor riding arena in Texas.
Dine just a few feet from where your food is grown at Chef Melissa Kelly’s 4.5-acre sustainable farm in Maine, where the produce and animals are all sourced on site—including edible flowers, micro greens, honey, eggs, fruits and more. Kelly won the 2013 James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: Northeast Award.” She previously received the award in 1999, making her the first two-time winner of the same award. Dine upstairs for a more casual bar vibe, downstairs if you prefer an intimate setting in the original parlor rooms.
This 1,400-acre working farm is also a National Historic Landmark. The venue has a dairy, garden and forest woodlands, all with a focus on sustainability. Local produce includes cheese, organic fruits and vegetables, lamb, beef, pork and eggs. The Inn at Shelburne Farms farm-to-table restaurant features these seasonal products in their menu offerings. While the restaurant is closed for the season, you can plan to visit for dinner, dessert, breakfast and/or Sunday brunch when it reopens on May 10.
Enjoy an open-air, on-farm dining pavilion experience for lunch at this impressive organic farming operation. A traditional Southern “meat and three” lunch is served five days a week for the more than 100 staff members whom you can join at the table. You can also order burgers and appetizers off the limited a la carte menu. Practicing what they call radically traditional farming, this is a zero-waste venue that contributes to the local community.
Dine on a farm to truly experience farm-to-table cuisine.
Plan A Trip
Advance reservations are advised for any of these on-farm dining experiences since seats may be limited.