Learn the Art of Sustainable Cuisine at These Hotels


With the recent trend toward expanding our culinary consciousness, “farm-to-table” is becoming increasingly common; but what about experiences that allow you to participate in this process?

These food travel-focused accommodations around the world will delight foodies and ethical travelers alike because they allow you to participate in the preparation of your food, by harvesting ingredients on the property and offering culinary classes.  Whether you’ve dreamed about hunting for truffles in Tuscany or picking olives in Greece, these lodges and inns won’t let you leave without letting you gain some hands on knowledge about where your food comes from.

Boschendal has all you need for the perfect picnic! Photo courtesy of Boscendal.

1) Pack a Farm-Fresh Picnic At Boschendal Wine Farm (Stellenbosch, South Africa)

Amidst Stellenbosch’s dizzying array of famous South African wine farms, one stands out as an authentic way to embrace its history. Boschendal is home to 600 Angus cattle, and an on-site butcher can prepare charcuterie or organic beef burgers to enjoy in your cottage.

Photo credit: www.boschendal.com

You can supplement this with fresh bread from the bakery, artisanal jams and oils, or trout you catch yourself at the onsite dam. Guests can pick their own vegetables and herbs from the 3 hectare (7.4-acre) garden or enjoy a meal at the open kitchen Werf Restaurant, looking out at the place where their ingredients are grown. Wine aficionados can learn about the varietals while being guided through the vines to the highest point on the farm, enjoying a glass of wine paired with aerial valley views.

2) Participate In A Traditional Olive Harvest (Laconia, Greece)

Take part in an authentic Greek olive harvest at Eumelia Organic Agrotourism Farm & Guesthouse in Laconia, Greece. Eumelia means harmony in ancient Greek, and this 50-acre (20-hectare) working farm employs homeodynamic agriculture techniques that enable nature to replenish itself at its own pace. During November and December, you can learn how to hand-pick famous Kalamata olives from ancient perennial trees, cure olives with sea salt from the Mani region, taste wines with the on-site sommelier and choose from a variety of cooking classes. If gathering olives wasn’t enough for you, you can even pick your own wild greens to make a traditional Greek pie.

3) Learn About Medicinal Plants (Sacred Valley, Peru)

Stay at the new Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba and expand your mind with an Ecological Farm program in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas.  You can learn about native crops, medicinal plants and ancient farming techniques on the hotel’s 10-acre (4-hectare) garden. Bonus: the contemporary hacienda-style hotel spans approximately 100 acres (41 hectares) surrounded by a vast view of the surrounding mountains. At approximately 9,515 feet (2,900 meters) in altitude, guests can also experience one of the best climates in the Cuzco region.

4) Experience Gaucho Lifestyle (Cordoba, Argentina)

Experience the Argentina cowboy way of life before this unique tradition fades away. The gauchos at the beautiful Estancia Los Poteros want to share their customs and traditions with you. You can ride horseback through the ranch, rest and recover by the idyllic poolside or feast on a traditional Argentine asado (barbecue). You will stay on a working-cattle farm in a magical setting at the top of the Sierras Chicas.

Photo credit: www.estancialospotreros.com.

5) Harvest Your Own Breakfast (Yao Noi, Thailand)

Harvest your own breakfast — from collecting eggs to picking mushrooms — at Six Senses Yao Noi in Thailand. The resort recently launched an organic chicken farm to promote sustainability and respect for the environment.

About a year ago, with the goal of producing eggs daily for their guests, they purchased 200 baby chicks and built a chicken house, complete with its own exercise yard with trees to peck on and 24 hours of jazz music to listen to. After three months, the chickens started to lay eggs and now their average daily yield is 150 organic, free range, zero carbon eggs.

No chemicals are used or chicken feed  purchased: the chickens eat fruit and vegetable trimmings from the kitchen, supplemented with rice husks from the local farms and a superfertilizer made from fermented pineapple skins or fish bones. By eating pure organic matter, chickens significantly reduce the overall waste of the resort. Furthermore, waste from the chickens is again recycled into compost for the property’s organic fruit, vegetable and herb gardens. Above Photo credit: Sixsenses.com.

You can visit the chicken house, collect your own eggs (still warm!) and bring them to the Chef at breakfast to be cooked as you wish. If you want an omelet, pick your own mushrooms from the property’s mushroom hut and harvest your own greens and herbs from the organic garden. You can taste the difference when you eat these farm fresh eggs and reap the benefits of clean, healthy and low cholesterol eggs.

6) Experience A Tuscan Truffle Hunt (Florence, Italy)

Just a stone’s throw away from Florence city center, travel to the sloping hills of Fiesole where you’ll find the Il Salviatino Italian villa. In the 15th century, the property was built as a humble farmhouse, but for centuries it served as a cultural hub for artists, performers and intellectuals. Over time, some of Florence’s elite families over the years refurbished the place into a luxurious Renaissance villa with stunning views of the Tuscan capital.

Photo credit: salviatino.com

You can participate in one of the most famous activities of the area with a truffle hunt that explores the secret world surrounding one of the region’s most valuable products. Join a certified truffle hunter and his dog for a hands-on truffle hunt, an introduction to cleaning and cooking techniques, followed by a truffle-filled lunch feast. You can try dishes like focaccia with truffle sauce, bean soup and even truffle ice cream.

The starting rate for Il Salviatino is $322 per night including breakfast.

By Katie Foot.


Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor's, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn't really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.
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