Heard of food miles yet? That's the term for the distance vegetables and other edibles travel to reach your plate. But as more restaurants cultivate their own organic gardens or farms, the food miles can be, as one owner puts it, mere feet.
Summer Jo's (541-476-6882, summerjos.com ) in Grants Pass, Ore., grows over 100 kinds of vegetables—from artichokes to zebra stripe tomatoes—and fruits, too. "People love walking in the fields, then seeing that produce become a meal," owner Nancy Groth says. Provençal ratatouille, say, with eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and Isis candy tomatoes.
The restaurant at 62-acre Gathering Together Farm (541-929-4270, gatheringtogetherfarm.com ) near Philomath, Ore., evolved from a farm stand. The staff raises pigs and heritage turkeys, as well as 50 types of vegetables. Harvest-season desserts may include rhubarb pot de creme and chiffon layer cake with peaches and berries.
"I focus on growing things I can't buy," says Charlene Rollins, chef and co-owner at New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro (541-535-2779) in Talent, Ore., just north of Ashland. She picks peas and black peppermint for a sweet onion risotto, and dips golden ground-cherries in white chocolate to offer as a parting treat.
Photography by Mitch Tobias
This article was first published in September 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.