Welcome to Texas y’all!—the Lone Star State welcomes people from all walks of life with open arms, hosting an estimated 255 million visitors in 2015. More than 1.3 million Texans work in the retail and hospitality sector, making Texas the second largest employer in the U.S. for this industry. From LEED® Certified buildings that make your stay sustainable to farm-to-table restaurants that support local ranches, hospitality leaders are developing a model for conservation.Harvest Seasonal Kitchen is a McKinney restaurant with a big serving of sustainability on the menu.
For its customers, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen offers locally-sourced, seasonal American fare and drinks, with a menu that changes based on what is seasonally available within a 250-mile radius. The kitchen uses every part of the animals and vegetables it receives, using techniques including preserving in jars, dehydrating into powders, and making its own sausage and stock. Even the bar serves almost entirely Texas-made liquor and beer, some of which is brewed in-house.
“Conservation happens at the local level, from the choices made within your community,” says co-owner Rick Wells. “Our objective is not just to serve great food, but to make a long-term impact on the community by supporting the businesses of local farmers, ranchers, and artisans.”
It’s not just the food and drink at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen that has a local, environmentally conscious flair: Flowers are purchased from a nearby flower farm, old paper menus are cut into coasters, water glasses are made from recycled wine bottles, and dining napkins are reusable cloth towels and laundered in-house.
Operating this way saves costs, supports the local economy, and lowers the restaurant’s carbon footprint. Harvest Seasonal Kitchen is committed to other forms of sustainability as well, such as building support networks with their nonprofit, the Seed Project Foundation. They host three Farm-to-Table Symposiums every year, bringing together local ranchers, artisans, chefs, restaurateurs, and local food advocates to exchange ideas. In 2017, Harvest’s nonprofit established the Farm Crisis Fund to support local farmers and ranchers through times of natural disaster or economic crisis. The goal: to build up the kind of local farming ecosystems that once supplied most of the country’s food. It also backs local efforts to assist members of the community experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.
“We want to feature the exceptional products grown by our farmers, make them trendy, and therefore create more demand for them,” Harvest Executive Chef Andrea Shackelford says. “Our goal is to foster an agricultural community known around the world for excellent products. We want the reputation of our food producers in North Texas to rival anywhere in the world.”