IÂ covered Anguilla as a Destination in the current print issue of Ocean Home, but I wanted to call your attention to the CuisinArt Resort & Spa, more specifically, the hydroponic farm right on the premises that supplies the resort with virtually all of the fresh produce served at its three restaurants.
I’d wanted to visit CuisinArt for years, and finally got my chance this past March. Though the resort has been around since 1999, they’re especially proud of their six new villas, each with a spacious dining and living room, fully equipped kitchen, and solarium. I stayed in one of the oceanfront villas, and the floor plan makes for all sorts of different combinations, making them perfect for extended families, couples vacationing together, or just a couple who desires a little bit more privacy while still being a short walk away from all resort amenities…
…including the hydroponic farm. Director Howard Resh, Ph.D., is a long-time pioneer in hydroponic farming, and launched CuisinArt’s operation — the first resort in the Caribbean to launch a large-scale hydroponic farm — when the resort first opened.
“Hydroponic farming is all about increasing the quality of the food you eat,” Resh told me during an interview and tour. Basically, hydroponics is a way to cultivate plants without soil. Instead of planting in dirt, hydroponic farmers set seedlings in water or a gravel-like material and then enrich the plants with a mixture of minerals and nutrients diluted in water.
It’s not unusual for guests to book a stay at the resort just because of the farm; Resh gives tours several times a week, and it’s on these tours where the scale and scope of the project is clear. Wandering down the aisles of the greenhouse, Resh points out arugula, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs. Each day, the farm provides the restaurants with 60 to 80 pounds of tomatoes, 30 pounds of peppers, 128 heads of lettuce, and varying amounts of herbs, cucumbers, and other produce.
We’re not talking iceberg here: Resh grows European Bibb and oak leaf lettuce, and beefsteak, Roma and cherry tomatoes, along with Zebrinos, a darker-striped variety that stands up to grilling. Off in a corner, towers of pots hold herbs like oregano, chive, sage, rosemary and parsley, some of which are passed along to the Venus Spa for use in facial and body treatments.
While eating lunch at the resort, I can definitely attest to the intrinsic value of knowing that the greens, tomatoes, and peppers in my salad were grown nearby, and in fact, that I probably saw them hanging on the vine during my tour of the farm the previous day.
Of course, they tasted a lot fresher than even the produce I get from my local farmer’s market.