FX Excursions

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Resorts With Gardens Offer Wholesome, Holistic Fun

by Carley Wade

Apr 17, 2019



Whether you’re looking for foraged to fork cuisine or just some hands-on fun for the kids, hotels and resorts with gardens mean food is not only as fresh as it can be, but there’s also some interactive learning, too. Just in time for Earth Day come these green-friendly getaways.


Vermont is the essence of farm-to-table dining, with thousands of miles of rolling hills for dairy cows and even a King Arthur Flour baking store and cooking school for sweet desserts. At the Woodstock Inn & Resort, Kelly Way Gardens grow much of the food and herbs for the resort, including special heirloom varieties of vegetables. The Red Barns at Kelly Way Gardens was recently built for an exclusive dinner series hosted by the chef and master gardener. Woodstock also owns and operates the non-profit Billings Farm Museum, where guests get free admission to visit dairy cows, chickens, goats and more and learn about the rural area’s rich heritage — and even sample some of the Billings Farm cheddar cheese!


Diners sit just feet from where their vegetables are picked at Earth, the restaurant at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine. The 800-square-foot organic farm is where flowers, herbs and heirloom vegetables are picked daily and the restaurant serves locally caught lobster and regionally sourced meats, along with craft cocktails using blossoms, blooms and bitters straight from the Vacationland soil.


Kelly Gardens

Kelly Gardens, Woodstock. Photo: Redpoint


The on-site apiary isn’t the only hub of productivity at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort — the Sprouting Project features an aquaponic greenhouse and expansive organic garden to source up to 10 on-site restaurants (open seasonally). Love pepper? Get ready for some spice thanks to myriad varieties of chilis. If your bliss is berries, fill up on strawberries and juicy blackberries. And for fruity fun, try figs or Satsuma oranges.


Guests can get their hands dirty, should they wish, at Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey, where the 62-acre Beach Plum Farm sources way more than just fruit. The resort’s kitchen is sourced with pesticide-free asparagus, spinach and the plum variety of tomatoes used in pizza sauce year-round. Congress Hall hosts frequent events for guests and the public, including gathering the yield from honeycombs, washing and collecting eggs, and digging for potatoes.


Vegan Monday menus at on-site restaurant Aura are just as tempting for meat eaters, thanks to Nita Lake Lodge’s delicious homegrown options, like a smoked tomato soup. The Whistler, British Columbia, seasonal rooftop garden produces oregano, pomegranates and raspberries for dressings and accoutrements, along with lavender for sweet treats.


Lodge at Woodloch takes it one step further and makes healing oils for its spa’s essential oils, including Rosemary Awakening and Lavender Garden Dream. The lakeside resort, in more rural northeastern Pennsylvania, takes a holistic approach and its dining program focuses on healthy cuisine with fruit and vegetables grown in three on-site gardens. Woodloch hosts many vegetarian-friendly tasting diners at its garden shed, replete with wine pairings. There’s also gardening classes, greenhouse tours and workshops on earth-friendly initiatives like composting.


The apple juice is next to heavenly at Ballyfin, the luxurious Irish estate house in central Ireland where Kanye and Kim had their honeymoon — but then again, so is the historic setting, framed by emerald-green mountains, that transports visitors back in time to what feels like Downton Abbey. Besides activities like rowboating, horseback riding, clay pigeon shooting and swimming, there are fun sessions with the on-site tenders of the historic gardens and orchard for fruits, vegetables and flowers. While the blossoms are placed in guests’ rooms, the produce makes its way to the kitchen for culinary demos with the classically trained chef, and on to plates in the dining room for fun costume evenings (all attire is provided, including opera capes and top hats).


They grow a lot more than fruit at Blackberry Farm, nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The James Beard Award-winning on-site restaurant sources its herbs, fruits and veggies from the farmlands that still use traditional agricultural practices. Farmhouse cheeses are also produced on-site. There’s a forager, on-site butcher and brewery. Yogis can rejoice in other wellness programs that serve the body and soul.


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