Fairplex Snapshot: Farm Crops

One of the best parts about having an urban farm in Los Angeles County? The weather is pretty warm all year long, meaning we always have crops in season.

Menus at our hotel restaurant, McKinley’s Grille, and our catering offerings at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center are based on which crops are in season at The Farm.

Depending on the season, field trip students will be able to see an abundance of vegetables and fruits — pumpkins, egg plants, chilis, carrots, peppers, olives, apples etc — growing in our five-acre space.

For more information about The Farm at Fairplex, click here!

Fairplex Embraces Aquaponics System

Aquaponics System at The Farm

We love The Farm at Fairplex. Besides being one of the most peaceful places on our grounds, this place is LIFE and constantly changing. We’ve shown you the crops, the lovely animals and now we want to explain the purpose of our aquaponics system.

Aquaponics combines aquaculture (the raising of fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants). When combined, fish and plants grow together in one integrated system.

Here is a diagram that explains things a bit more:

Aquaponics Fairplex Embraces Aquaponics System

 

Urban Farming: Our new pond!

TheFarm pond 225x300 Urban Farming: Our new pond! Our Farm team is constantly experimenting with various urban farming methods, one of the latest being aquaponics. We started work on our above-ground fish pond a couple months ago and it is now fully functioning!

The pond connects to our Agustin lettuce culture crop, which is being grown in DIY plant tubes. Eventually our fish pond will ensure food circulation and aeration of water from the pond skimmer back into the pond.

Our horticulturist says we only need a portion of the water flow to support the lettuce plants.

Our pond also serves as a home to turtles, fish and (most likely) ducks!

We’re very excited to introduce our latest farming structure to you during Fair time. Stay tuned for updates!

Urban Farming: Fairplex Hydroponics

TheFarm hydroponics 225x300 Urban Farming: Fairplex Hydroponics Growing an urban farm like ours takes a little creativity and a lot of agricultural know how. Thankfully we have plenty of both!

While the majority of our crops are grown traditionally, we practice many farming techniques. We covered vertical farming in a couple months back and now we’re taking a look at our hydroponics crops!

Hydoponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil.

It’s a great way to care for long-term growth. We’re currently using our system to grow blue tomatoes (the healthiest tomatoes you can grow… more on that in another post). 

Our hydroponics chambers were created thanks to an Eagle Scout project one of our local Boy Scouts of America troops did a few years ago.

Our plants currently reside in moist perlite and are planted deeper than most tomatoes. We let the water pumps run continuously during the first three days so the plant scould establish themselves in their new home. Now the system is timed to run three times per day.

If you have a lack of soil / garden space, using hydroponics is a great alternative!

To learn more about The Farm at Fairplex, visit fairplex.com/farm.

Infographic: Sustainability on The Farm

ICYMI, we covered a few of our water preservation and energy saving techniques that we use out at The Farm on a daily basis. We thought it would be fun to convert some additional facts into an infographic. Check it out!

sustainability infographic Infographic: Sustainability on The Farm For more information on The Farm at Fairplex and our environmental footprint please visit fairplex.com or leave us a message in the comments section below!

Urban Farming: Water Preservation

It’s no secret that The Farm at Fairplex is sustainability-conscious. We make an effort to make all our systems as energy-efficient and resource-savvy as possible, including the way we regulate irrigation.

TheFarm DayofService Urban Farming: Water Preservation Beneath the peaceful exterior of The Farm lies intricate sustainability systems 

Along with our vertical farming system, we also use a state-of-the-art weather reactive time clock with an on-site mini weather station to regulate irrigation. This not only prevents water waste, but minimizes the resources we need for irrigation. 

We save more than 12,000 feet of copper wire that would have been required if we had used the old standard of irrigation installation and wiring.

CAN0127 300x200 Urban Farming: Water Preservation As for the weather clock, it reacts to daily weather changes and automatically modifies or delays irrigation based on The Farm’s actual needs. It helps correct accidental run times that could cause excess water usage, leaching water and wasting precious soil nutrients and fertilizers past the root zones.

We are dedicated to keeping at the top of industry standards for irrigation, using the latest in drip-tape, drip-tube, drip emmitter, spitter stick and bubbler technology to minimize the waste of water through evaporation and splash.

DAN4619 300x199 Urban Farming: Water Preservation We decide on the type of irrigation to use for each crop based on how long the plant is grown and the best water supply system for each soil type (i.e. planted in the ground, on a raised bed, in a portable container etc.)

Like children, all plants have their specific needs and using the wrong system just wastes precious water and fails to irrigate soil correctly. We take the responsibility of urban farming seriously and we look forward to another year at The Farm!

To learn more about The Farm at Fairplex, visit us at mckinleysgrille.com.

A farm-fresh Thanksgiving at McKinley’s Grille

McKinley’s Grille is whipping up a delicious feast for Thanksgiving dinner. We can’t wait for the smells of roasted turkey, candied yams and house baked pumpkin pie to come wafting through the air.

Thanksgiving A farm fresh Thanksgiving at McKinleys Grille www.mckinleysgrille.com

Many of our dishes will be made with ingredients selected fresh from our Farm! With the new expansion we are able to grow more vegetables, herbs and fruits than ever before and we are excited to include them in our menu.

Chef Teig has shared a few of his favorite Thanksgiving recipes with us over the years, and if you’re looking to create your own Thanksgiving dishes, try adding these to your holiday fare:

Chef Teig’s Turkey Gravy Recipe

scan0003 264x300 A farm fresh Thanksgiving at McKinleys Grille As shown in IE Weekly Magazine 

Ingredients

  • 6 turkey necks
  • 1.5 gal chicken stock
  • 2 ea. onion (medium)
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 ea. medium carrots
  • 1 T black pepper corns
  • 1 t coriander seed
  • 2 ea. bay leaf
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

  1.  Roast turkey necks at 400F degrees until necks start to brown.
  2. Cut onions, celery, and carrots into large chunks.  Toss lightly in oil and roast at 400F until vegetables starts to brown
  3. Combine necks and vegetables in a large stock pot.  Add pepper, coriander, bay and chicken stock.
  4. Bring to simmer and reduce by ½.
  5. Melt butter in separate pot and whisk in flour to make roux thickener.  Keep moving roux slowly on a low heat until the mixture turns light brown.
  6. Strain the turkey stock and put back on a medium heat.  While stock is simmering, slowly whisk in roux until gravy reaches desired thickness.
  7. Season with salt to taste.

Grandma Carol’s Cornbread Pecan Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. cornbread
  • 12 oz. 1”diced fennel
  • 12 oz. 1” diced onion
  • 3 oz. chopped garlic
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups toasted pecans
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup ground fennel seed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Dice cornbread into 1.5” cubes.
  2. Sweat fennel, onion and Garlic in olive oil until translucent.  Mix cornbread with fennel, onion, and garlic.
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Stuff in turkey and roast or put in medium roasting pan and bake covered at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.

For more information about McKinley’s Grille and Thanksgiving at Fairplex, visit www.mckinleysgrille.com.

Urban Farming

lettuce 199x300 Urban Farming Sheraton Fairplex is home to McKinley’s Grille, a restaurant specializing in “farm-fresh cuisine” grown at our on-site urban farm. Berries, apples, grapes, herbs, leafy greens, peppers, broccoli, squash and a number of other fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown throughout the year.

Fairplex isn’t the only event center moving towards the locally grown as a main food resource. It is a trend that is taking hotels, restaurants and even schools by storm, all working towards healthy, sustainable methods of growing crops.

McKinley’s Grille is fortunate to have ample space for a farm to grow right on property (the farm is currently 1/3 of an acre large and is currently being expanded). The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel restaurants Raya and enoSTEAK cook their dishes from locally grown produce as well. Other venues like the luxurious W Austin (Texas) search no farther than 50 miles to procure the best locally grown food and beverages.

The benefits of using locally grown ingredients are many. For venues like Fairplex, chefs and horticulturists work together to plan menus and know exactly what methods of farming are used to provide the healthiest, cleanest, freshest vegetables, fruits and herbs possible.

veggies 300x199 Urban Farming Rather than using foods that are shipped from hundreds to thousands of miles away, venues using local produce, meats and other foods have access to the freshest in-season ingredients, resulting in fresh, in-season dishes. Check out the video below for the techniques Fairplex uses at our local farm.