Some consider chefs like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse or Kimbal Musk of The Kitchen the pioneers of farm-to-table. Jim Denevan, who launched Outstanding in the Field—the cult-favorite dinner series known for its long, instagrammable tables in rural settings—20 years ago could also be part of that conversation. Now, the movement is common, with even small cities filled with restaurants embracing the trend. The latest crop of resorts, however, is taking it to a new level, incorporating actual working farms on-property that allow guests to not only taste but also truly experience the fruits of their labor. Take a look.
Adobo-style rotisserie chicken with butternut squash puree and sikil pak (Mayan pumpkinseed pesto).
Blink and you’ll miss it, but right off Carters Creek Pike outside Franklin, Tenn., is one of the best meals you’ll find in the state. Don’t let the grass parking lot and no-walls thing fool you: You’re in for a treat at The Rambling.
A ’49 Ford F1 panel van serves as the bar. Long wooden tables set with plates from Nashville-based Tenure Ceramics beckon friends and strangers to come together. The smell of smoked meats, like short rib from local Bear Creek Farm, wafts through the air. Live music from local entertainers serves as background. And two massive greenhouse conservatories that produce hundreds of pounds of produce a week frame the entire setup. What you won’t find here (yet): the actual Southall resort.
Working through the process of developing a farm resort, the team behind Southall decided to launch a dinner series, The Rambling, ahead of the elegant 80-room farmhouse-style hotel, The Inn at Southall, and luxury spa (both expected to open by early 2021). The sold-out experiential dinners, which typically feature at least 10 courses, began this spring and will resume this fall. Menus change frequently, but inventive dishes like smashed pea toast with pickled strawberries and nasturtiums, and salads made from eight kinds of lettuce grown on-site are bursting with flavor.
“We wanted to give people a taste of what’s to come,” says chef Tyler Brown, who’s at the helm. “Southall is all about bringing people together and celebrating the bounty.”
The property also has an orchard, 2 acres of gardens, 10 acres of pasture, chickens, corn and soybean crops, and an aquaculture program
“Someone said The Rambling is like the world’s greatest cookout,” says Brown. “All of us are working together to preserve the best of the past, to celebrate what modern technology has allowed us to do, and continuing to learn from it all in very enjoyable ways.” southallfarms.com
BRUSH CREEK RANCH
Guests of Magee Homestead at The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch have access to The Farm at Brush Creek.
This luxury dude ranch, nestled between the Sierra Madre mountain range and Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in southeast Wyoming, debuted a series of seed-to-table experiences in July with the opening of The Farm at Brush Creek. Get down (and dirty) with on-site experts to learn more about farming, brewing, cheesemaking and more. At Cheyenne Club, for example, executive chef Angus McIntosh teaches classes on grilling and butchery using wagyu beef raised on the ranch. At the 20,000-square-foot Brush Creek Greenhouse, you can play farmer for the day, learning the basics of planting, germinating, cultivating and harvesting. And beginning in 2020, you can even hang out with the farm’s herd of Alpine goats, which provide milk to make cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream. All-inclusive from $950 per person per night, brushcreekranch.com
CASTLE HOT SPRINGS
Resident agronomist Ian Berger works with tomatoes grown using a high-wire technique at Castle Hot Springs.
Known as Arizona’s original luxury resort, Castle Hot Springs reopens this fall after more than four decades of dormancy. The organic farm here is small in space (a third of an acre, plus a greenhouse and a small citrus orchard), but mighty in ambition, with a goal of becoming 100% sustainable (i.e., supplying all of the produce needs for the resort). Resident agronomist Ian Berger cultivates more than 150 varieties of fruits and vegetables and 36 citrus varieties. In addition to dining at Harvest restaurant, you can engage in cooking classes at the exhibition kitchen, or go on a hands-on farm tour that includes harvesting vegetables you get to enjoy at dinner. All-inclusive from $1,200 per night, castlehotsprings.com
CHATHAM BARS INN
Chatham Bars Inn hosts family-style farm dinners on its 8-acre farm.
Focused on growing specialty crops using sustainable methods, the 8-acre farm at Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod, Mass., produces nearly all of the produce needed for the resort’s restaurants (as much as 50,000 pounds per year). Farm manager Josh Schiff has been slowly building up organic matter in the soil, resulting in a flourishing farm. This year, to help others enjoy the bounty, the Inn opened its farm dinners to the public for the first time. Guests are seated at long tables outdoors (like a smaller version of Outstanding in the Field) with twinkling lights overhead to enjoy three-course dinners with dishes like farm vegetable crudités with homemade bread, heirloom tomato salad and Honeycrisp apple upside-down cake. From $499 per night, chathambarsinn.com