While many chefs are proud to say they gather their ingredients from a local source, not all can boast ownership, creation and maintaining of a 40-acre, all-organic farm in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Jose Garces, who we know as the man behind seven Philadelphia and three Atlantic City restaurants, as well as a local taco truck, shifted his career back to its roots when deciding to start Luna Farm in Ottsville, PA.
The location serves as a home away from home for his family and also brings fresh ingredients like organic vegetables, fruits, eggs and honey to the dishes we’ve all grown to know, love and devour. You can find the delicious final products at his east coast restaurants, and wether you’re in the mood for American, Asian Fusion, Latin American, Mexican, Tapas or Vegetarian cuisines, Chef Garces does it all.
In an effort to stay close to his permanent residence of Philadelphia, he began the Luna Farm venture for various reasons. Mainly because he wanted to have total control over the ingredients going into the food he serves. However, Chef Garces isn’t going it alone, as he has already formed a partnership with local Bucks County Organic farmer, Alex McCracken, to maintain the large land. You might know Alex as part owner with his wife, of The Turnip Truck—an organic kitchen gardening company, also based in Ottsville.
There are three full time employees and many volunteers, in addition to Alex and Jose, lending their expertise help at the Luna Farm. The whole crew works to grow more than 20 varieties of tomatoes and peppers, and a lot of tomatillos. Also produced at the farm are about seven varieties of eggplants, five varieties of melons (including heirloom watermelons), sweet corn, many varieties of squash, a couple types of beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips and sunchokes. Once the weather cools off, the farm will switch back to growing lettuces, baby spinach and arugula but growing isn’t all this operation lends itself to. Luna Farm also supports the Garces Family Foundation, which helps educate children about the benefits of sustainable agriculture, meal preparation and healthy eating.
They have opted for green techniques at the farm since day one, from solar greenhouses to rainwater irrigation. They even recycle fryer oil from the restaurants into bio-diesel to power the farm’s tractor! Since Chef Jose Garces loves to use the ingredients year round, especially herbs, Luna Farm will operate relentlessly by way of naturally heated “hoop houses” and continue to bring fresh food during the winter. That means the ingredients will work their way into unique dishes at every location and satisfy your seasonal cravings year round! Enjoy!
Photographs credited to Nina Lea Photography.