Gilardi’s Vegetable Garden

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...

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It’s not often a vegetable garden surprises one.

When we travel to visit our family in Springfield, Missouri one of the things we like to do is to all share a meal at an Italian favorite of ours, Ristorante Gilardi’s.

Located in a residential area in an old carriage house behind the original Victorian house, the restaurant has always had a perfectly manicured lawn, but on this visit things were different.

Something caught our eyes. Staci and I literally did a double-take. Since we were there last they had ripped out their perfect lawn and replaced it with a shiny, new vegetable garden.

Now, one caveat: we got to the garden party late. This was in middle-October when things in the garden were winding down, but we could tell this wasn’t some little ‘chef’s herb garden’. This was a full-blown vegetable garden.

We could see evidence of chard, cabbage, all kinds of peppers, borage, mustard greens, kale, several varieties of tomatoes, onions, and herbs; chives, rosemary, basil, chervil to name but a few. This is a perfectly plotted, professional planted garden.

It seems a long-time friend of ours, James Martin, had recently purchased the restaurant (and its property) and had quickly made the decision to make his restaurant as sustainable as possible–starting with his very own garden only steps from the kitchen.

And in this first year of growing, the restaurant has already seen just how much the fresh, healthy produce coming from the Gilardi garden adds to the bottom line. Not only that; guests have noticed a flavorful difference.

“The garden has been nothing but a very positive thing for Gilardi’s,” Mr. Martin explained to us. “Our guests can see the vegetables growing in the garden and then they see the produce on their plates. Talk about eating local! Guests tell us all the time that our food is more delicious these days. That makes all the work that went into putting in this garden completely worth it.”

There’s a lot of talk these days about ‘farm-to-table’, ‘eating locally’, ‘sourcing locally’ and ‘locavorism’. Ristorante Gilardi’s is putting those concepts into practice right in their own front yard. Hats off to James Martin, Chef Jeremy Smith, Chef Aaron Rosario, and everybody at Gilardi’s who have been involved in this great example of sustainability.

Thank you, Steve Lewis for your evocative music for the video.

Have you ever seen a vegetable garden where you expected to see a front yard?

Photo credit: Craig McCord