Blue Hill, hands on at the farm
A New York restaurant that is associated with a non-profit farm. It may seem like wanting to join two opposites but Dan Barber's work with Stone Barns is synergy. A collaboration that began in 2004 and makes them indispensable to each other. The chef opened a second restaurant in the vicinity of the farm that is supplied from the crops and in turn the establishment is Stone Barns' main customer. The chef even uses some products for his other restaurant in New York City.
The restaurant menu is designed based on the farm produce and it focuses on making the most of the ingredients, and this is how Barber managed to build a close relationship with farmers and turn this partnership into a strong message that in the US he promotes an organic, local and seasonal diet, to the extent that diners are not given a list of dishes, the menu is a list of what is harvested at Stone Barns according to each season.
This model, which they call "farm-driven cuisine," not only translates to Fine Dining. It also enters the dynamics of the farm, which in turn has projects such as a laboratory that investigates agricultural practices and techniques with a view to a more sustainable world. They also offer an internship and learning programme aimed at gardeners and another for school teachers, as well as other technical workshops and hosting the annual young farmers’ conference. The Blue Hill chefs play an active role in the farm's projects as they teach cooking classes for the children and adults who visit.
The partnership does not stop there, Blue Hill and Stone Barns go even further and establish collaborations with other non-profit organisations, including The Mobile Kitchen Classroom and The Farm-Powered Kitchen Program.
Currently, another platform they are exploring is the web. Virtual Grange is a virtual community for beginner farmers where experts from the farm offer tutorials and public advice, from how to prune a tomato plant and how to sell products to chefs, for example.