When you eat your food, do you know where it comes from? And no, ‘the grocery store’ doesn’t count.
Ingredients or meals are often frozen and shipped hundreds of miles before they arrive in your fridge. But with farm-to-table restaurants, you never have to question if your meal is fresh. The meat and produce are always sourced from local farms or even a farm on-site, enriching farmers and customers alike — and it’s healthy, too!
This year, consider showing your support to a community-based business and check out a farm-to-table restaurant in our region.
Buckingham Farms Restaurant — Fort Myers, FL
Looking for a place to eat that’s fresh, locally-owned, and environmentally friendly? Then Buckingham Farms is your best bet in Southwest Florida.
Established in 2009, Buckingham Farms is a perfect blend of farm and restaurant. Sitting on 85 acres in Fort Myers, cattle roam the fields, and leafy greens thrive on a specialized hydroponic farm — where water delivers nutrients instead of soil — built by advanced agricultural specialists. The produce and meat are sold at the market or served on a plate at the farm’s on-site eatery.
Buckingham Farms wasn’t always a restaurant. After decades of being used as a hog ranch and citrus grove, owner TJ Cannamela and his family bought the land to grow and sell vegetables at a small produce stand. But they noticed that customers only bought conventional produce, leaving alternative plants like kale to rot. When asked about their purchases, the answer was always the same: “We don’t know how to cook it.
So Buckingham Farms decided to cook it instead.
At Buckingham Farms Restaurant, breakfast could be a traditional plate of biscuits and gravy or candied bacon Belgian waffles. Lunch offers dishes like the firecracker burger or crab cake salad. The restaurant doesn’t serve dinner in-house, but you can order a Friday night dinner package to go with delicious options like bourbon chicken, BBQ baby back ribs, or Tuscan pork chops.
Visit its website to see the restaurant’s full menu or learn more about Buckingham Farms.
The Farmer’s Table at White Oak Pastures — Bluffton, GAIf you want history, then White Oak Pastures has it in spades. The Harris family has operated the farm for 156 years now, spanning six generations.
But that’s not its only unique feature. White Oak Pastures practices what it calls “radically traditional farming,” a zero-waste model that prioritizes living in harmony with the land. The meat and produce that isn’t sold directly to customers end up on plates at The Farmer’s Table, a quaint restaurant behind the farm’s General Store.
Breakfast offers plates like the Cowboy Quesadilla or “Bluffton Feast,” which features assorted breakfast classics: bacon or sausage, eggs, grits, and more. Lunch and dinner share a menu headlined by meals like the Deep South burger and Farm Fresh salad. Friday and Saturday nights even have a menu all to themselves, including a “weekend special” dish that changes every week.
You do more than eat delicious food when visiting The Farmer’s Table. You also support the farm’s land regeneration efforts, all-natural and ethical animal raising and slaughter practices, and local economic restoration. White Oak Pastures is Bluffton’s largest private employer, supporting the livelihoods of more than 150 people in one of Georgia’s most rural counties.
The Farmer’s Table is just one of many things to see and do at White Oak Pastures. You can tour the farm, attend some of its workshops on topics like beekeeping and leather shoe-making, and even stay in a cabin on-premises for a “digital detox.” To learn more about The Farmer’s Table and White Oak Pastures, visit the farm’s website.
The Hope Farm — Fairhope, ALThere’s a lot of hope going on at The Hope Farm.
Its namesake comes in part from its quaint coastal town — Fairhope, Alabama. But it’s also a reference to the hope that its owners, father-son duo Robert and Bentley Evans, have for the future of sustainable farming in their hometown and beyond.
Their focus on sustainable farming means that The Hope Farm looks slightly different from the typical farm image you’re probably thinking of. There aren’t acres of land here, but rather a hydroponic environment.
Sometimes referred to as an urban farm or container farming, this growing environment uses shipping containers on-site customized with a unique system that allows The Hope Farm to grow year-round, using far less space and approximately 90% less water than a traditional farm. In addition to the containers, there’s also an orchard and raised beds to accommodate different crops.
Here, produce is king, and based on their unique growing environment, you’ll find that the plants change quarterly. Fan favorites such as lettuce and herbs, carrots, beets, figs, blueberries, loquats, and satsumas are just a few of the options, and they’re all incorporated into the menu including their garden-to-glass cocktails. If wine is more your style, rest easy because The Hope Farm also offers a wine bar.
The real specialty at The Hope Farm is gourmet mushrooms, especially varieties that are not otherwise available in the area. You can find choices like Oyster mushrooms, Lion’s Mane, Trumpet, Pioppino, Maitake, and more in dishes such as the mushroom toast or as an accompaniment to a filet mignon.
The restaurant menu often changes like the crops, so you’ll always find new and exciting options. And whatever the farm doesn’t produce itself, like meat and beer, it buys fresh from local providers. To learn more about The Hope Farm and its restaurant, visit its website.
Eat fresh, not frozenFresh food is rarer than you think — but thanks to farm-to-table restaurants, quality is becoming more and more common.
This year, make it a goal to choose fresh, local options and hit the road in your favorite Toyota to try a farm-to-table restaurant in the Southeast.