Growing Menus

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In a bid to get the best and freshest fruits and vegetables on their tables — and to capitalize on the organic-food craze — more restaurants are growing their own greens. Renowned chefs like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., and Eberhard Mueller in New York City were the forerunners of the restaurateur-farmer trend, inspiring others to follow suit.

At the Herbfarm in Woodinville, Wash., each day's menu is set only hours before the meal in order to take advantage of the day's harvest from the restaurant's 6,000-sq.-ft. garden. Chef Benjamin Ford maintains an organic garden in his backyard for his Beverly Hills, Calif., restaurant Chadwick, which is named for legendary gardener Alan Chadwick, the man who is credited with bringing biodynamic organic gardening to the U.S.

Even eateries in less friendly climates are running private gardens. In New York, Taste restaurant maintains eight veggie-filled greenhouses on the roofs of two Manhattan warehouses.

In Ogunquit, Maine, chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier run a garden that Gaier says was "born out of necessity." Their one-acre garden (left) provides as much as 90% of the vegetables that they serve at their Arrows restaurant. Both chefs worked in California, where they had access to a range of produce from local farms. But in Maine they found their choices limited and decided to grow their greens and vegetables. The garden supplies the restaurant with 20 kinds of tomatoes, 28 varieties of lettuce and many other vegetables. Gaier and Frasier hope to inspire home cooks with their new The Arrows Cookbook (Scribner). Even people without an acre of land can use the book, says Gaier: "We hope that people will go to the market, find beautiful produce and then let the book inspire them."