While the farm-to-table model is not exactly new, any restaurant that grows almost 100% of its food on a private 3,000 acre farm is to be applauded. But when that restaurant is in the Nicaraguan capital Managua, which has experienced a political breakdown that recently led to violent protests, it’s an exceptional achievement.
Newly opened in a city where the culinary scene is still in its infancy, Harvest is a kind of all-day eatery and grocery store offering food produced almost exclusively at Rancho Santana. The property comprising guest houses and an inn is located in the small town of Tola on the Emerald Coast, some 140 kilometres from Managua, in a paradise destination that attracts surfers and tourists from all over the world.
It’s the icing on the cake of a food programme that began life a few years ago, when the ranch area was acquired by American investors who fell in love with the place and decided to settle there. Even though they were not hospitality entrepreneurs, they focused on a serious culinary programme built around the local community of fishermen and food suppliers. They assumed total control of the food served in all four restaurants on the property (among them a taqueria and a restaurant focused on wood-fired oven dishes), as well as the brand new one in Managua.
What started with a garden to produce cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, greens, herbs, eggplants, carrots and other vegetables, has systematically evolved into a real farm, with around 35 dairy cows, 100 pigs, 100 pelibuey (a short-haired variety of sheep well-suited to the local hot climate). It also has two large chicken coops with over 200 free-range chickens providing eggs for all the property, from staff meals to the restaurants' menus.