When touring Green Door Gourmet recently, it occurred to me that the inclusion of “gourmet” in the name may be slightly misleading. Yes, the this urban farm in West Nashville grows some of the city’s unique and artisanal vegetables. Yes, they supply more than 20 of Nashville’s most exclusive restaurants with fresh, organic vegetables. And yes, in their store, one can find myriad Southern-made products like smoked tomato jam, shea butter soap, fresh horseradish, farm-raised eggs and cheeses from all over the region … all definitely gourmet.
Yet, when you tour Green Door Gourmet, you realize this is a 300-acre working farm that involves long hours of digging in dirt, lots of sweaty manual labor, and all of the risks associated with farming as a way of life. “Gourmet” sounds glamorous. At Green Door Gourmet, the glamour is hard-earned.
Green Door Gourmet owners Sylvia and Al Ganier are no strangers to hard work. She was raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina. His family at one time owned 3,000 head of cattle on the land currently home to Green Door Gourmet. The Ganiers have had dirt under their fingernails for a long time.
It was this love of the land that prompted Sylvia to ask Al to carve out a 9-acre kitchen garden on his family farm eight years ago. As her garden grew, Sylvia invited friends and neighbors to share in her harvest. One lucky friend was Seema Prasad, owner of West Nashville’s fine-dining establishment Miel. Seema realized what an incredible resource Sylvia’s garden could be for her restaurant, and Sylvia, a former restaurateur and early pioneer in the farm-to-table movement, agreed. Sylvia knew the importance of easy access to fresh, seasonal produce, but she also realized the farm was an attraction in itself. And that’s when Green Door Gourmet was born.
The farm grows to-spec huge varieties of greens, squashes, herbs, tomatoes, radishes and beets. So if you’re like Deb Paquette of Etch and want your squash just so, Sylvia will oblige.
Sylvia is serious when she says that we all need to head back to the kitchen. She believes that healthy eating is about understanding what Mother Nature has given us and how to prepare it, and that’s why a trip to Green Door is like signing up for a continuing ed class. Guests can learn different ways to prepare kale, why a watermelon radish is completely different than a traditional radish, and how a certain herb, when infused while baking a cake, creates a concoction that is simply magical.
Green Door also offers their popular “flexible” CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program to local residents, a fabulous option for those of us who can’t commit to a traditional CSA. Sign up for their newsletter or give them a call to find out what’s in the box each week, and then place your order online. No more missing your CSA because you’re out of town or missing the narrow window for pick up. For more finicky folks, Green Door allows customers to customize their boxes, filling them with only the items they want.
A new Green Door option will be available soon, once Sylvia’s commercial kitchen is approved: She’ll be providing home cooks with already processed veggies. Much like local groceries offer a mirepoix, or chopped veggies for a stir fry, Sylvia plans to do the same. The only difference is that her veggies were harvested that day.
Green Door’s Farm Market is filled to the brim with local goods. The store has an entire wall of jams, preserves, pickles and other Southern delicacies from purveyors like Noble Springs Cheese, Benton’s Bacon, Morris Hollow Beef, Bang Candy, Booch Kombucha, Bongo Java, and Thistle Farms. In addition, the refrigerators are stocked with a huge variety of flavored waters, teas and other refreshing drinks. You’ll find cheeses, eggs, soups, sauces and marinades, all fresh and all healthy. Local potters are featured, as are other artisans with gift unique items.
The farm’s old barn was rebuilt re-purposing the original barn wood inside to create an amazing event space. A testimony to the phrase “if you build it, they will come,” the farm has hosted a multitude of weddings overlooking the fields in the rustic gazebo or on the porch.
What’s on the horizon for the Green Door? Lots! If you go out in the next couple of weeks, you’ll see the pumpkin house, made from the farm’s crop of 50,000 pumpkins.
This spring they plan to roll out a flower CSA. Unlike their CSA vegetable box, you must to commit to 24 weeks of the flower program. For $10 a week, you’ll walk away with a gorgeous bouquet of fresh-cut flowers.
Also, if you like to pick strawberries, Green Door has acres of plants in the field. Even when the strawberry crop was decimated last spring, Green Door’s were waiting to be picked.
On November 9, Green Door is hosting Beards for Beard, a whole hog competition with local chefs. The competition supports the James Beard Foundation’s programs and scholarships.
Interested in visiting Green Door Gourmet? It’s about five miles from Green Hills. Jump on I40W and you’ll be there in less than 15 minutes. Take Charlotte Avenue exit and make a right on River Road. Green Door Gourmet is located at 7011 River Road, Nashville, 37209. Find out more at 615-942-7169 or greendoorgourmet.com.
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