Farm to table mobile restaurant open
[Originally article appeared May 24, 2019 in the Huntingdon Daily-News written by Jesse Rice. The Garden Harvest receives coaching from Startup Alleghenies and received a $3,500 Step Up Alleghenies grant.]
A new mobile restaurant is celebrating its grand opening today, Friday, May 24, at 10879 Piney Ridge Road, featuring local food and focusing on fresh food and healthy dining.
The restaurant, called The Garden Harvest, is run by Anthia DiSalvo and Laura Hess, and is located on Steele Farm, which is operated by Hess and her partner, Adam Steele.
Hess explained they started the gardens for the restaurant in 2014.
“We’re focused on food safety, sustainability and nutritious food prepared with gourmet flavors,” she said.
The restaurant will source many of its ingredients locally: eggs from Minestream Farms in Shade Gap, meat from Brenneman’s Meat Market in Huntingdon and cheese from Clover Creek Cheese Cellar in Williamsburg, Blair County.
“We’ll also have spinach and fresh onions from our garden,” Hess said.
“And I have fresh greens from Hostetler’s Naturals in Mifflin County,” DiSalvo said. “They’re organic Amish farmers, and they’re great.”
The mobile restaurant will feature a variety of foods.
“We’ll have sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries. Whatever is coming out seasonally, that’s what we are really focusing,” said Hess. “We’ll have a core menu of grilled chicken and burgers, but everything else will be what everybody is producing, what we are producing that week and whatever way we can combine it. There’ll be a weekly menu (released) at the beginning of every week.”
The menu for Friday’s grand opening can be found on the Garden Harvest Facebook page. It features a spring chicken salad, the Piney Ridge Sunrise burger (with Brenneman’s beef, MineStream eggs, Clover Creek cheddar and Steele Farm greens), a PA cheesesteak and many other options.
Hess said their location out of town does not worry her for customers.
“We have boats and bikes (along this road),” Hess said. “People come up the ridge to take the scenic route to Seven Points or the campground near here. … It’s amazing how much traffic this ridge actually gets.”
They also have another reason to host the restaurant on the farm.
“We are closer to the gardens where we grow the food,” Hess said.
“Our mantra is ‘food is medicine,’” DiSalvo said. “The processed quick options available to the average consumer today are nutrient deficient, being produced from biologically exhausted soils and preserved for profit, not freshness. Folks today don’t realize what do to with some of the vegetables or how to prepare them or pair them with fresh herbs of a delicious flavor profile. … We use methods like no-till, companion planting and smart irrigation to grow the most nutrient-dense produce we can.
Their goal is to find a way to help farmers and businesses connect.
“We were just in Lancaster, and Lancaster has a thriving local community with a very similar setting compared to Huntingdon when you break it down demographically,” Hess said. “Downtown (Lancaster), every local restaurant has a local option featuring a local farmer. There’s a connection to the local farmer, from business to business, that is a better way for everyone involved.”
She added, “Over the years I’ve watched big businesses kill family farm after family farm growing up in Saxton. We hope to use the dining experience and agricultural entertainment venture as an example that small farms can find profitable niches in the gourmet food industry.”
This year serves as a testing ground for the business.
“This is really a feasibility study to see if we can turn (this) into a farm-to-table restaurant,” Hess said. “To see if we can have enough of a clientele and enough of a market to have a healthy food (restaurant), grown and sourced locally. We’d love to expand this into a bigger project, and then the food truck could go mobile.”
DiSalvo worked in the food service industry served for 15 years locally, including Standing Stone Coffee Co., Stone Town Café & Gallery and Wildflower Café. Now she is ready to start her own.
“A sit-down, farm-to-table restaurant has been my goal for 15 years, and now it’s coming to fruition,” she said. “Having all of these people helping me, I couldn’t have done it by myself. It’s very exciting.”
DiSalvo said they hope to get the restaurant going in the next 3-4 years if everything goes according to plan.
“For now, we are here every Friday and Saturday,” Hess said.
The restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
To keep up to date with Garden Harvest and to see the weekly menu, follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @thegardenharvestLLC.