Farm to table is the it trend for eco-conscious foodies and farm lovers alike. Does the thought of taking your kids to a nice restaurant to teach them about where their food comes from and enjoy a farm-to-table meal make you quiver? You don’t have to brave the waiting lists at fancy restaurants or the scowls from guests, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers Farm (or Garden rather) to table meals that are perfect for families and kids alike!
Garden to Table Dining at the Chicago Botanic Garden
We spent a recent afternoon at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Fruit and Vegetable Garden, learning about the plants, their drop-in activities, and their new cafe menu. The Fruit and Vegetable garden is what home farmers dream of. Everything that you could want to grow they have. We saw cabbage that was the size of globes.
…a Herb garden based on the blend of herbs de province…
…a pizza garden, tomatoes, okra, and we learned that strawberries make a great vertical garden:
We also learned that everything grown in the garden is used in the Garden View Cafe. Harvest in the morning on your plate by afternoon. The garden chooses varieties that work best in small areas, great inspiration for your home garden as well! By choosing varieties that fit the space, growing up instead of spreading out, they can produce a higher yield. In addition to their own garden, the Cafe works with 16 other local sources to obtain fresh, local produce and supplies for your meal.
Speaking of your meal. The Garden View Cafe has an all-new menu that focuses on seasonal, local, fresh food. During our visit, the kids got to meet the garden’s Executive Chef Michael Kingsley and taste the new Sprouts Menu. As a mom with picky eaters and toddlers that like to graze, I loved the menu! All of the Sprouts meals come with fresh seasonal fruit, so I know they will eat at least one thing! The baked chicken tenders are very similar to a recipe we use at home. They are coated in a breading that is still crunchy and tasty without frying. My chicken nugget-loving toddler ate them all up. The biggest surprise was the top-secret mac and cheese, and it looks likes your classic gooey cheesy favorite….
…but shhh, the secret is that it’s filled with butternut squash! The regular menu is just as tasty, so mom and dad aren’t left out!
The fruit and vegetable garden isn’t all about eating! Every weekend they have free family drop-in activities to educate children about the food they are eating and how the plants grow. One of my kids’ favorites is sorting the foods by part:
During the month of September, the drop-in activities will be harvest-themed. You can make pumpkin prints to take home, play in the apple picking sensory bin, sniff and guess a variety of fall fragrances, and more!
The Chicago Botanic Gardens is open daily. Admission is free but parking is $25 per vehicle
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022
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Disclosure: The writer was invited to a media event for the garden to experience the cafe and meet with Chef Michael. We were given return admission to the zoo and a summer family fun pass to compensate us for our time. No other compensation was received, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.