Hyper-local food, plant-based protein, nootropics (that’s brain food to you and me), gut health; these are a few of the latest trends that have shaped the food scene in 2018. Why? Consumer attitudes about what food should and shouldn’t do for our bodies is changing…but it didn’t happen overnight.
For the past decade, there’s been a growing awareness about what we’re consuming. Look no further than the booming presence of farm to table foods in the American restaurant scene spurred by our desire to understand where our food comes from, avoid GMOs and create local food sustainability. Seen early as an outlier trend, the mainstream growth of the farm to table movement signifies a cultural approach to food and eating with staying power.
As farm to table food continues defining what’s next in the American dining experience, club managers must stay abreast of opportunities in this area, so their clubs keep pace with the most cutting-edge dining experiences. Now is the time to think club’s farm to club’s table.
The most progressive clubs have already shifted from ordering food from farms to building their own farms and sourcing it themselves. These smart clubs (like Medinah and several Discovery Land Company properties) have repurposed acres to harvest their own vegetables; build chicken coops producing fresh eggs; plant maple trees to source maple syrup; and create bee hives for their own honey.
What’s causing clubs to literally dig in and start planting? Simple: revenue generation possibilities and the member experience.
The market for local foods is expected to reach $20.2 billion by 2019, highlighting the demand of consumers for fresh foods at both the grocery store and restaurants. Building farms and gardens on-site allows clubs to tap into this growing market. At the same time, it also allows clubs to lower their food costs, oftentimes recuperating their farm or garden building expenses in mere years through the savings generated by growing produce themselves.
Beyond providing club members with the freshest of the fresh, growing and sourcing food on the club’s property presents other subtle opportunities. First, gardens present an opportunity to offer a new experience. A beautiful, uniquely tailored garden can become an additional club amenity, not only providing members with healthy food, but also a beautiful alternative area for a cocktail party or an experiential lesson about gardening and farming.
For an on-site garden or farm to be successful financially, club managers should think about the garden or farm as more than a source of food for the club’s restaurants. The space can be optimized by creating learning and event opportunities within it. For example, clubs with successful gardens use it as a springboard for educational member events ranging from seminars on how to develop similar gardens at home to how to adopt a plant-based diet.
Similar to the health benefits of eating farm to table food, the benefits of moving from farm to table to club to table have serious potential.
Don’t have the space to break ground? Start simply and host a private farmer’s market by reaching out to your local purveyors. Doing this on a quarterly basis shows your members how much the club cares about offering the freshest ingredients, while creating a fun experience that draws them into the club for something new.