Environmental Stewardship at Urban Farmer
Developing new ways to incorporate environmental stewardship into Urban Farmer’s policies and practices is a large focus for General Manager, Andy Hata. The desire to protect our environment is engrained in Andy’s lifestyle and his passion for it can be quite influential and contagious.
Andy, and the Urban Farmer team, believes that their efforts to conserve and utilize sustainable methods are what help make them stand apart and hope they will have influence on others in Cleveland. With the start of spring, the team has stepped into high gear with growth and exploration of sustainable practices on all levels.
Andy and Kelly, the new Sales and Marketing Manager, recently attended the ILEA (International Live Events Association) “Living and Working in the Green Economy” event, to learn how businesses can help educate consumers on how their choices impact the planet. The event also provided great inspiration for ways to incorporate recycled and sustainable touches into dinning and private events. Things like repurposed drawers used as serving platters and linen napkins can not only lend to creative food presentations, and dining experiences, but also reduce the amount of waste. Additionally, the ILEA event provided an opportunity for Andy and Kelly to learn from, and network with, like-minded professionals, including the event speaker Lori Hill. Lori, the president and co-founder of Sister Eden media, an online media company that inspires people to make sustainable choices in their everyday lives, shared personal stories, like details of her own green wedding, as well as those of eco conscious special events she produced, including the Mid-Atlantic Green Wedding Showcase, an annual trade show featuring sustainable wedding and event vendors, as well as a eco fashion show.
Andy and Sous Chef Stephanie, with support of the team, recently started a rooftop garden in an effort to enable Urban Farmer to take local to a new level. They started by planting a broad range of seeds, including lettuce, herbs, peppers, tomatoes and more inside to avoid the potential threats of a (typical) Cleveland spring frost. As the plants quickly grew, the team also got to work on building the rooftop beds where the plants will be transferred, for long term growth, once spring truly arrives. The hope is for the plants to flourish and Urban Farmer to incorporate some of these fresh ingredients into their beverage and menu offerings. In doing so, the team will be able to reduce the amount of transportation and energy required to bring food from farm to restaurant and in turn reduce the related harmful effects on the environment.
Spring has also brought the start of a hydroponic garden project inside the restaurant and the start of a recycling initiative. Andy is leading the team to grow chili peppers, within a custom grow tent on premise, with the plan to move the pepper plants to the hydroponic garden once ready. The chili peppers are slated to be incorporated into a few areas of the menu, pending growth.
The recycling initiative has been in the works for some time, as Andy had been working with local leaders to create a plan that could manage the volume of waste a large restaurant, like Urban Farmer, creates. The initiative took a big step forward as volunteers from the team recently participated in a trash audit, sorting by type/category and measuring to determine our biggest offenders and overall volume. We look forward to sharing more on these developing projects in future posts and surely more exciting sustainable efforts! As you can see, we are on a mission with Andy at the lead.