Because the needs of a restaurant are very different from the needs of direct-sales, we have made a long-term commitment to our own restaurant farm. The Harvest Table Farm has been in operation since fall of 2010 and grows specifically for our needs. Our goal is not to replace all of the important farmer relationships we've established over the past few years, but to extend our overall use of local foods, and participate directly in developing a healthy local food system, which is a central part of our mission.
Our farm is located in Meadowview, on a rolling 4-acre plot. Our farm manager, Matt Sanders, recently worked as farm manager for Abingdon Organics, and before that was a grower for Appalachian Sustainable Development. Matt is extremely busy with both short- and long-term planning and planting, and coordinates his planning with the needs of the restaurant.
Our farm production falls into three main categories. First, the farm provides a more reliable and steady supply of the main produce items for the restaurant. Our regional farmers' markets are an excellent source of much of our produce, but those growers mostly target the market, and our restaurant isn't always their priority. Our farm increases both the varieties of familiar produce, such as tomatoes and peppers, and expands the produce categories beyond what we've been able to find locally, such as celery, root vegetables and onions. We also serve to supply some of the other restaurants who use local foods.
Second, the farm allows us to extend our commitment to fresh local produce well outside the conventional growing seasons and even growing zone. This is done with our two hoop houses and our small greenhouse, by choices of varieties adapted to cooler weather, and by adopting growing practices developed in colder climates. This also includes growing produce and varieties suitable for winter storage. We have outlined some of these procedures on our winter production page.
Finally, a major portion of our planning involves a much longer perspective on the plot of land we've chosen, with a particular eye toward an ecological approach to farming. Our planning is done in accord with permaculture principles and respect for the land. We are always creating new ideas for reinventing our growing procedures and approaches. We continuously experiment with practices such as biological pest and disease management, cover cropping, crop rotation, on-site composting, permaculture and perennial production, orchard and berry plant care, and creating terraced planting beds to control erosion on sloped areas. Any ecological approach to farming must consider that perennial planting is the lowest long-term impact on our land, and The Harvest Table Farm tries to maximize this strategy.