According to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table. This system of food distribution uses four to 17 times more fuel and emits five to 17 times more carbon dioxide than local or regional systems.
In an effort to reduce food miles and improve the flavor of the food on your plate, many Northern Virginia restaurants cultivate their own ingredients to bring to the table. Below, find six places where you can enjoy true farm-to-table fare in honor of Earth Day.
The greens in the towering salads at this Ashburn spot come from their farm in Suffolk, Neighborhood Harvest. The 19,000-square-foot greenhouse operates year-round growing hydroponic, pesticide-free lettuce varietals. Microgreens from the farm are also used to top pizzas and other dishes like Thai chili shrimp and tuna and avocado poke. // 19890 Belmont Chase Drive, Unit 135, Ashburn
Evening Star Cafe
On the rooftop of Evening Star Cafe in Del Ray, there’s a 1,360-square-foot garden that can sustain more than half of the restaurant’s menu during peak season. Chef Dan Hahndorf works with a local gardener to grow and harvest 15 to 20 pounds of produce each week during the summer, like tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, shishito peppers and purple long beans. In the winter, the garden mostly provides herbs like thyme, basil and rosemary, which are often used in cocktail syrups. // 2000 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria
Gentle Harvest and Hunter’s Head Tavern
Local food champion Sandy Lerner has two Certified Green Restaurants that serve meat and produce from her 800-acre organic farm, Ayrshire in Upperville, which specializes in humanely raising heritage livestock and grows heirloom fruits and vegetables. The beef, pork and chicken served at both restaurants comes directly from the farm, with offerings like hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken stew, corned beef, bone broth and more. Gentle Harvest, the hybrid market-drive-thru concept, has a butcher shop that sells the meat as well. On Earth Day, Gentle Harvest will host a celebration with local vendors, giveaways, food specials and activities like seed planting and a compost demonstration. // Gentle Harvest: 8372 West Main St., Marshall; Hunter’s Head Tavern: 9048 John S. Mosby Highway, Upperville
Lansdowne Resort and Spa
This expansive property in Leesburg has an herb garden that they created in partnership with Legacy Farms, a nonprofit dedicated to providing agricultural training for adults with autism. The garden grows 21 different herbs, from cilantro and rosemary to chocolate mint and lemon balm. These herbs make their way into dishes at the resort’s six restaurants, including the newly revamped Coton and Rye. The herbs will also be the star of the menu at a new restaurant opening in May, Fanny’s Garden, with dishes like pesto-topped sourdough pizza and an herb salad with summer greens. // 44050 Woodridge Parkway, Leesburg
Salamander Resort and Spa
Middleburg’s luxury resort has a 1-acre Culinary Garden that supplies herbs and produce to Harrimans Grill, Gold Cup Wine Bar and the Cooking Studio. The harvest includes sweet potatoes, lettuces, asparagus, tomatoes, strawberries, hot peppers, cucumbers, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, melons, kale, Swiss chard and rhubarb. While many of the fruits and vegetables are prepared fresh, the cucumbers are used for pickling and the hot peppers are often dehydrated and ground for rubs and seasonings. The garden space is also available for special events and culinary classes. // 500 North Pendleton St., Middleburg
Trummer’s On Main
This small town charmer has garden plots both at their restaurant and at their chef’s home. Four raised beds and multiple pots at the restaurant grow herbs like nasturtium, red sorrel, mint, basil and more. At the chef’s home garden, four larger raised beds grow tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and squash. // 7134 Main St., Clifton