By now farm-to-table is as commonplace in the restaurant world as craft cocktails or leather-bound menus.
The Atlas Restaurant Group is taking the concept to its literal extreme by opening a farm of its own, meaning some of the fruits, vegetables and herbs on your plate will literally come from their farm to your table.
In an announcement today, Atlas said the farm, located 25 miles outside the city in Carroll County, has five acres with the opportunity to expand to 25 and will use a heated greenhouse and two high tunnels to grow produce year-round.
“With the addition of Atlas Farms, we look forward to not only providing our guests with the best quality produce at our restaurants, but also working with local food banks to provide meals for those in need,” managing partner Eric Smith said in a statement.
The first group of crops is expected to include: lettuces, kale, beets, carrots, tomatoes, radishes, kale, eggplants, Japanese turnips and shishito peppers, as well as herbs such as oregano, mint, lavender and basil, and culinary flowers.
During future seasons, Atlas hopes to add a dozen fruit trees for sour cherries, Asian pears, persimmons and pawpaws, and blueberry bushes, among other plants.
They’ll also have a chicken coop and 50 chickens, which will hopefully yield about 350 eggs a week–about one-third of Atlas’ usage, the company said. And there’s the added benefit of the pasture-raised chickens helping to till and naturally fertilize the soil. (There’s no talk at this time of the chickens themselves also becoming part of your meal, a rep for Atlas said.)
Atlas projects the farm will account for 75 percent of produce served at the group’s restaurants in its first year. Within three years, Atlas hopes the farm will be certified organic and provide 100 percent of fruits, vegetables and herbs at the company’s dozen-plus restaurants.
The company has tapped Maryland native Larson Weinstein to oversee the agricultural operation. Per a release, Weinstein, who grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, recently apprenticed at Mountain View Farm, a Purcellville, Virginia-based grower.
“At Mountain View, I learned about the best practices to ensure the quality and consistency that fine-dining establishments rely on,” Weinstein said in a statement. “From the soil to the time invested in caring for the crops, everything we do guarantees that we will be providing our restaurants with superior quality.”
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