Grass isn’t the only thing growing these days at the Village Links Golf Course in Glen Ellyn.
Recently, officials decided to further test their green thumbs at the art of gardening and grow fresh, organic produce to be incorporated into various menu options at the Village Links Restaurant. Some of these plants include Butter Crunch Leaf Lettuce, yellow peppers, tomatoes and arugula.
Recreation Department Director Matt Pekarek said this is the first year for the new initiative, which he hopes will produce successful results and continue throughout the years.
The goal of the first year is to break even with the cost of materials and labor.
“We think it will be really successful,” he said.
By using a special growing system, all of the vegetables will be pesticide and chemical free. Basically, each plant is housed in its own small container that requires less water and keeps weeds out, according to a recent entry by Assistant Golf Course Superintendent Chris Pekarek on the Village Links’ blog page.
All of the containers are also placed on wood pallets, which allows for them to be easily transported in and outdoors depending on the weather. This extends the length of time officials have to grow the vegetables.
Matt Pekarek said they first started putting together a plan in April. And although this will not eliminate the need to purchase produce for the restaurant all together, it will hopefully result in some cost savings.
It is relatively inexpensive to grow the plants from seeds, cuts down on transportation and fuel costs to have produce delivered and reduces the amount of money spent on more expensive herbs such as basil.
“We are really excited about it, but at the same time, these are baby steps,” he said.
Officials been working with Mike Atkins, the restaurant manager, to choose vegetables that are easy to grow, can be used in his recipes and offset food costs.
Pekarek said the golf course already practices many environmentally friendly elements, and growing their own produce is just another extension of that. This is also a growing trend among many other Chicago-area restaurants.
“We think it is just the way the world is headed,” he said.