Change how we eat, and we change the world for the better
During the past three years, the farm and food production team has turned the Playa Viva Farm from a seasonal operation into a year-round farm that plants and harvests even when the hotel is closed. Promoting a farm-to-table philosophy, increasing the volume of locally sourced healthy ingredients and helping create a resilient local food system are essential activities that touch on Playa Viva’s core mission and values. As a sustainable boutique hotel, we want Playa Viva to be a place where you can enjoy the luxury of your time and with your loved ones, meaningful experiences that make a positive impact on the local community and connection to nature that regenerates the landscape.
I manage the Playa Viva farm with a simple goal: to consistently increase the volume, health, variety and value of the food that we provide to the kitchen. While the overarching goal may be simply stated, the philosophy behind it and the means of achieving it deliver the depth that make it work in accordance with the hotel’s values.
Why is Farm-to-Table important to Playa Viva?
The food we put on our plate at each meal (how it was farmed, transported and prepared) is one of the principal ways in which we affect our planet and our communities. For many of us, it’s no longer a surprise to hear that agricultural greenhouse gas emissions rank in the top ten opportunities to ‘draw down’ our carbon footprint (along with refrigeration, transportation and manufacturing). Additionally, the vast majority of people living in extreme poverty globally work in agriculture. While these challenges can seem intractable, that they are so intertwined with one of our essential daily activities affords us many opportunities to act, to constantly improve and to make a positive impact.
For every ounce of food (or gram since we’re in Mexico) the farm sends to the kitchen, we take a tiny step toward a more locally based food economy. To start, including more plants on your plate brings you health benefits and reduces each meal’s environmental impact. In the past year, the kitchen has incorporated many new yet local ingredients such as jackfruit from ours and neighboring farms, creating delicious dishes great for guests and the planet. In addition, Playa Viva’s farm is much closer to the hotel’s kitchen than any market or store. And, when food comes from our farm, we know who planted and picked it as well as their working conditions.
We want the ‘farm’ in farm-to-table to be more than just Playa Viva’s farm. Supporting our neighbors and community means bolstering them with our food purchases as well as facilitating training and other market opportunities for them. As we consolidate our efforts on our own farm, our goal is to increase engagement with other farmers and incentivize them to employ organic and regenerative practices. By training local farmers in these practices and helping them get certified, we increase the health of the local ecosystem as well.
How do we implement Farm-to-Table at Playa Viva?
How we do things on our farm and how we get food all the way to the table are just as important as why. On the farm, we adhere to organic, agroecological, regenerative and permaculture principles. We have strived to create a place that provides physical, spiritual and ecological nourishment. The ‘farm’ is composed of a variety of spaces across the hotel property, from down at the beach, through the tamarind and coconut groves and up to the mango and fruit orchards where we also plant most of our greens and vegetables.
In the past couple years, the farm team has focused on saving as much of our own seed as possible, choosing varieties that are continually adapting to our climate and conditions while also sharing and exchanging with other farmers to increase the availability of local seeds. The farm implements three different composting systems to utilize food waste from the kitchen and provide for the nutritional needs of our plants. We minimize the use of outside inputs on the farm and when we do use them, we opt for organic selections.
Off the farm, Playa Viva works with partners elsewhere in the local food ecosystem: we sell produce at the weekly Eco Tianguis Sanka market; we exchange recipes and ideas with the Cooperativa Ecovegana; and we support our farming partner, Gente Viva, in working to promote organic farming and connect farmers with market opportunities. Through all these activities, we promote actions that reduce our environmental impact and strive to increase our own local sourcing. If we can move to healthier, more plant-based options and contribute to regenerating the soil while building a thriving, resilient local food ecosystem, then we are accomplishing our goals for farm-to-table at Playa Viva.