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She Grows her own Organic Veggies for her Coffee Shops

By goGreen | July 26, 2011
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MANILA, Philippines — How do we really know if the vegetables we eat are organic or naturally-grown? This was the question posed by Chit Juan, founder of Le Bistro Coffees and Le Bistro Vert. “The best way to really know is to do it yourself,” Juan said. She started a small demo farm in a lot planted with coffee in Amadeo, Cavite to try growing her favorite vegetables like Arugula and Lollo Rossa lettuce. Now, she grows not only her favorites but whatever the restaurant or cafes require.

She took up the “new” job in behalf of her partners Jeannie Javelosa and Reena Francisco — all of them partial to salads in Le Bistro Vert and even the veggies that go into Le Bistro’s sandwiches.

“At first, I was doing trial and error, growing just about every vegetable whether we used much of it or not,” Juan exclaims. “But I realized it would be more sustainable if I just chose what the cafes and the restaurant need,” she added. The rest of the harvest, after addressing the requirements of the cafes, are delivered to her partners’ homes and even to friends who have converted to LOHAS, or Lifestyle Of Health and Sustainability.

Two of her partners at ECHOstore, Jeannie and Reena, thought of naming it ECHOfarms , which is what they now call her demo farm. ECHOstore has also asked Chit to grow hanging gardens for condos, seedlings for herb gardens and even tarragon and lemongrass for tea.

“We use Lollo Rossa, grown without chemicals or pesticides,” Chit proudly says. “Most of the Lollo Rossa lettuce goes into Le Bistro Cafe’s sandwiches. “We also try to source many of our ingredients locally (ham, cheese, chicken, etc), even for pasta at the cafes”, she added.

You can very well say that these partners have taken sustainability to heart. Beside sourcing their coffees from small farmers around the country (Chit is also in charge of this coffee-buying task), they try as much as possible to encourage customers to change eating habits for the better by serving healthy menu choices.

While Le Bistro Sustainable Cafes have a different albeit simpler menu selection, it still keeps to its vision of promoting local coffee to help our coffee farmers. Le Bistro Vert, on the other hand, is able to offer more menu choices because it has a bigger space. In fact, recently it has introduced new dishes, in keeping with seasonal availability of some fish and vegetables, promising a menu that respects Mother Nature and whatever she can offer, at different times of the year.

They plan to organize more vegetable -picking tours after many successful pocket runs in the past few months. Tour participants harvested their own vegetables, and gladly posed for their own souvenir photos of a day’s experience at an organic farm. Right at the back of Le Bistro Vert’s kitchen in Makati is a plant box, where Chef Jam also picks a leaf or two of basil, thyme, oregano or mint to add to his plating during lunch or dinner.

Sustainable restaurants and coffee shops are the toast of the consumer in this decade. Every diner wants to know where his food comes from. This is exactly what Chit and her partners wanted in the first place. They look forward to eating in their cafes and restaurants, knowing that each leaf in their salad, each ingredient found in their dishes, came from sustainable sources.

Check out the websites : www.echostore.ph and www.lebistro.ph to see what Chit and her partners are up to, each business centered on the concept of sustainability.

 Source: The Manila Bulletin

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