From cultivating fruit, vegetables, rice and cereals, to rearing rare-breed cattle or keeping bees, the gardens and farms of Relais & Châteaux properties produce an astonishing array of organic products that are as delicious as they are healthy and beneficial for the planet.
Castello del Sole Beach Resort & Spa, Ascona, Switzerland
Rice fields for Risotto rice; maize for whole wheat polenta; durum wheat for pasta: Terreni alla Maggia, a 370-acre (150-hectare) farm and vineyard–part of Castello del Sole's photogenic Lake Maggiore estate–is nothing if not generous with its farm-to-table products. Following seasonal rhythms, it also grows tea and varieties of fruit and vegetables, including 30 types of tomatoes. Castello del Sole's own Locanda Barbarossa, where chef Mattias Roock's "Sapori del nostro Orto" menu takes guests on a journey through the garden and to local producers. Part of the menu is the legendary Risotto, which represents the magical place in its flavours.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee, USA
In Tennessee’s Appalachian foothills, once cultivated by the Cherokee, Blackberry Farm’s 4200-acre (1,700-hectare) estate supplies its kitchen with superb seasonal produce. As well as growing plentiful fruit and vegetables, the farm’s multi-talented team includes a forager for wild mushrooms, blackberries and ramps (wild onions), livestock specialists and a brewer/distiller. It also has a cheesemaker–milk is supplied by local dairies–and a preservationist, who creates everything from sour cherry jam to Tennessee Chow Chow relish. All this produce is raw material for The Barn at Blackberry Farm’s renowned Foothills Cuisine, with chef Cassidee Dabney’s dishes including lamb shank with cranberry bean, roasted carrot, raisin, grilled cabbage and kale.
Le Château de Beaulieu, Busnes, France
A champion of organic, self-sufficient and sustainable gastronomy, Christophe Dufossé’s Michelin-starred menus embrace fabulously fresh, homegrown seasonal produce. A two-and-a-half acre (one hectare) permaculture (ecologically harmonious) kitchen garden–watered by natural springs, and swaddling citrus and kiwi trees–delivers everything from baby sprouts and endive to Amandine potatoes, alongside explosions of strawberries and edible flowers including hibiscus. There’s also a herb garden, orchard and beehives. Everything’s picked at peak ripeness, intensifying flavors in dishes such as lobster, smoked lovage and praline-chicory roasted celery root.
Château St. Gerlach, Valkenburg aan de Geul, Netherlands
St. Gerlach’s vegetable, herb and bee gardens, along with a rare-species fruit orchard–part of its beautiful Limburg estate–were instrumental to the Château winning a Golden Green Key: sustainable tourism’s highest award. Known as Wijland (We Land) because it’s maintained with the help of volunteers–including guests–the kitchen garden supplies prolific seasonal produce from beets, zucchini and beans to asparagus and cabbage, for Chef Guido Le Bron de Vexela’s modern dishes with a local twist, like lamb, eggplant and Wijland beans, and ray wing, buttermilk and zucchini.
The Uza Terrace Beach Club Villas, Okinawa, Japan
From tropical fruit to herbs, vegetables and wheat, Uza’s Our Farm grows seasonal produce with minimal use of chemical fertilizers and maximum use of natural agricultural techniques, including companion planting, with specific crops cultivated together to reduce disease and boost biodiversity. Bordering the East China Sea, the farm’s wheat fuels Uza’s craft beer and bread needs, its medicinal plants go into spa treatments and its vegetables, dragon fruit and bananas make smoothies, cocktails and chef Masatomo Kina’s European-influenced dishes–think peperoncino with red chili and seasonal vegetables, pottage or assorted vegetables with bagna cauda sauce, local miso flavor and more.
Domaine de Rymska, Saint-Jean-de-Trézy, France
Built on the twin foundations of farming and hospitality, the bucolic domain, 18 miles or so (30 kilometers) outside Beaune, among rolling vineyards, provides almost all of its restaurant’s ingredients–a short and highly successful supply chain. Alongside a bountiful vegetable garden and orchard, the 200-acre (80-hectare) estate rears Charolais, Wagyu cattle, along with lambs, pigs and poultry–turkey, geese and ducks–all with high regard for animal welfare. It’s all a rich seam of produce for chef Jérémie Muller’s seasonal Burgundian dishes. One homegrown signature: Wagyu beef, Pont-Neuf potatoes, candied onions and stuffed mushrooms.
SUJÁN Sher Bagh, Ranthambhore, India
SUJÁN The Serai, Jaisalmer, India
Deep in the Thar desert outside Jaisalmer, where temperatures regularly hit 122°F (50°C), The Serai’s farm produces all that’s green on the camp menu. Using only ash and manure fertilizers, it also grows phoombi (desert mushrooms) and raises indigenous Tharparkar cattle. Further east, Sher Bagh’s organic garden, fringing Ranthambhore National Park, produces fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices including five lettuce varieties, ginger–the camp devours a kilo (just over two pounds) every day–mint and egg plant, which are roasted in a tandoori oven, then minced with tomatoes, onions and spices.
Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, United Kindgom
Perched on Scotland’s southwest coast overlooking the Firth of Clyde to the isles of Ailsa Craig and Arran, this famous 110 acre estate includes a walled 19th-century kitchen garden growing herbs such as rosemary, sage and curry plant, and seasonal vegetables including zucchini and rhubarb. Its crowning glory, however, is a splendid Victorian glasshouse containing pear and fig trees, strawberry plants and 100-year-old vines–and now home to a new venue for afternoon tea and private diningunique greenery-draped restaurant. It provides both produce and inspiration for chef Joe Gould’s award-winning dishes, such as plaice with leek, shallot, carrot and shellfish bisque.
El Colibri, Santa Catalina, Argentina
In rolling pampas beneath the Sierras de Córdoba, this charming estancia is home to an organic vegetable and herb garden–the source of summer tomatoes, fascinating spring artichoke and autumn pumpkins. It also boasts a vast orchard, while its nearby hacienda–eco-certified for regenerative land management–rears Aberdeen Angus cattle. Guests are invited to milk Marguerite the cow (whose milk goes into dulce de leche) and to help harvest El Colibri’s produce–all of which underpins chef Léo Bramajo’s acclaimed menus, including asado with 12 different meats, voted the best in Argentina.
Il Borro, San Giustino Valdarno, Italy
Il Borro dates back to Roman times but its latest incarnation, as a sustainable organic estate and vineyard, started in 2012. Its three-hectare vegetable garden now applies biodynamic principles, using only cow and green manure from its Chianina cattle, and coordinating dry pruning with lunar cycles. Crop rotation regenerates its soil, while nettle infusions control pests and bees from 30 hives ensure healthy plant pollination. The reward is gloriously fresh seasonal vegetables and the re-introduction of traditional crops like Small Tuscan Tomatoes and ancient grains including gluten-free buckwheat–all wonderful ingredients for the Osteria del Borro’s chefs.