If you live in a major American city or watch food shows on television, chances are you’re familiar with the term farm-to-table. When you hear that culinary buzz term, you know that your meal will have the absolute freshest possible ingredients. In today’s health-conscious world, more and more people want to know what they’re eating, and the farm-to-table concept allows restaurants to cut out as many middle men as possible.
If you’ve eaten at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, you know that their executive chefs pride themselves on creating a menu full of locally-sourced, farm-to-table options. Eating from a farm-to table-menu is one thing, but it’s a very different experience to visit the actual farm. That experience is now available as Stone Farms opened to the public on Saturday.
Stone Farms sits on the 19-acre Escondido property formerly known as La Milpa Organica. The farm ceased operations in 2010 as they struggled to maintain profitability, and the property sat vacant. In 2011, Stone co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner took over the struggling farm in 2011, renamed it Stone Farms, and they’ve been growing veggies for their bistros ever since.
When you first step out of the car at Stone Farms, the first thing you notice is that despite the proximity to I-15, the farm is quiet. As you walk up the hill from the parking lot, a real working farm unfolds in front of you. Rows of fruits, vegetables and herbs at various developmental stages spread out all over the five tillable acres. There’s even an early-stage hop vineyard in one corner because it wouldn’t be Stone without hops.
Thankfully you don’t have to wait for these young hop vines to produce before you start enjoying beer. Part of the old barn has new life as a small tasting room with four different Stone beers on tap. Visitors have the opportunity to try special versions of Stone classics like Pale Ale with lavender or IPA with dandelion. The tasting room also sells Stone Farms merchandise as well as fresh vegetables and eggs.
There are several options for what you do after you get your beer. You can stroll the grounds and get a closer look at all of the produce. If competition is your idea of relaxation, they’ve tucked a bocce court and horseshoe pit in the middle of the rows of plants. If the heat gets to you, you can grab some shade under a gazebo or umbrella. There’s even a large shade tree surrounded by hay bale couches and a Neapolitan pizza oven.
While money doesn’t grow on trees, you can certainly save quite a bit by growing your own produce. A small hydroponic operation allows Stone Farms to produce microgreens at a fraction of what they would cost on the open market. “We can grow these microgreens hydroponically for $2.50 per pound,” says Steve Robbins, Stone Director of Hospitality. “On the open market, those would cost upwards of $18 per pound.”
Visitors to Stone Farms can arrive in two ways. If you want the all-inclusive experience, you can join a group tour that leaves from Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. For $20, you get transportation to Stone Farms, a guided tour, a souvenir glass filled with beer brewed with Stone Farms ingredients, and a take-home bag of salad mix or herbs. If you just want to show up, the farm is open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. However you get there, it’s a great way to see where your food starts its culinary journey.