DOWN ON THE FARM IN CABO.
Farm-to-table is merely a few steps away at Flora Farms.
By Irene Moore
Flora Farms is a hand-tended 25-acre organic farm nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, or as it’s more commonly known, Cabo. This tranquil sanctuary is just a mile from the Sea of Cortez and the Puerto Los Cabos Marina, near the well-known resorts of Cabo.
Cabo had been known for its casual laid-back vibe, little fish shacks and azure waters, but recently the bounty of locally–grown food here has attracted locavores who really care where their food comes from and plant-based food movement people. Many restaurants are now serving produce-centric cuisine sourced from local ranches and organic farms. The hugely popular Saturday morning market, the Mercado Organic, offers organic vegetables, farm-fresh eggs, and freshly made tacos and tamales. The Mercado’s objective is to promote and foster knowledge of organic agriculture and its healthy benefits.
At the forefront of the local organic movement is Flora Farms, also home to Flora’s Field Kitchen, The Farm Bar, The Farm Spa, Flora Farms Grocery and Flora Farms Celebrations. Also on the property are the Shoppes at Flora Farms, and the Culinary Cottages & the Haylofts. The Haylofts are hand-built straw bale luxury homes. Flora Farms is owned by California ex-pats Gloria Greene and her husband Patrick. Gloria comes from a long line of farmers. She grew up on a large ranch located between Sonoma and Napa, where her father was a viticulturist, one of California’s first. As a girl, she watched her father create a hillside vineyard, and she thinks that a family farm should be a gathering place for the community.
The Greenes founded Flora Farms in 1996 to supply their restaurant, Café Flora, a small organic restaurant, with the best locally sourced ingredients. They started growing organic vegetables on an estuary near the town of San Jose del Cabo where Café Flora was located. Slowly, they built up the soil with composting and cover crops. They founded a farmers’ market, offering breakfast and hosting charity events for the humane society.
Executive chefs from some of Cabo’s exclusive resort hotels took notice and started to seek them out for their organic and heirloom vegetables. When Charlie Trotter opened “C” in Cabo, he discovered the Greene’s produce. Trotter’s head chef at “C”, Guillermos Tellez, had gotten to know the Greenes through their restaurant, Café Flora. The Greenes started to supply Chef Tellez with vegetables and meat from the farm and were the first to provide a list of particular varieties of heirloom and organic varietals specifically grown for the restaurant.
The Greenes dreamed of being able to cook right on the farm where their organic produce was grown. They made their dream come true in 2010 and opened Flora’s Field Kitchen an open-air kitchen with a rotisserie in the middle of a field, where Chef Tellez (formerly of “C”) grills chickens and roasts vegetables in embers. His pizza oven is tucked away in an old-growth mango grove. As the farm became better known, other internationally known chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten sought out the farm’s products. Eventually, Flora’s Field Kitchen became so popular that it had to keep all that the farm could produce for its own kitchens.
Flora’s Field Kitchen menu changes often, because it offers only handmade food using the farm’s fresh seasonal ingredients. The kitchen strives to serve only what they raise, and grow everything they need. All meats come from the Greene’s 150-acre ranch where animals are humanely raised on diets that contain no hormones or antibiotics. Various cuts of Heritage pigs are made into coppa, soppressata, and culatello cured meats. Beef is not on the menu—beef production is not sustainable in Baja because of the scarcity of water. However, the ranch has dairy cattle and the staff milks the cows themselves. The milk is made into butter, ricotta, and burrata for the restaurant, and an aged cheese is in the offing.
Both tourists and locals love the Farm Bar, an open-air bar with rows of vegetables growing just a few feet away as its backdrop. The Bar’s famous Carrot Juice Margaritas (Farmaritas) and Watermelon Juleps, served in humble Mason jars, are hugely popular. Flora’s Field Kitchen and the Farm Bar have become a Cabo institution; not only visitors but also long-time regulars fill the restaurant to capacity every night.
A small market, Flora Farms Grocery, is also set amid the fields of produce. It’s stocked with produce, meats grown, butchered and cured by the farm—such as ham, bacon, and sausages—chicken, house-made baked goods, pickled products, sauces, dressings and preserves. The grocery’s vegetables, herbs, and flowers are picked daily, and fresh juice drinks are available, made from the farm’s organic produce. There’s also a microbrewery and interactive cooking classes offered in vegetable taco making, seasonal tamales, and regional salsas.
The Farm Spa is located in the middle of the Spa Garden. As guests stroll down the path to the tranquil Spa, they may hear chirping birds in the papaya trees overhead. The Spa uses the garden’s flowers and herbs in the spa treatments, with aromatherapy and the healing and restorative properties of nature being emphasized. Spa services include massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and hair services for both men and women. Spa classes include yoga, meditation, Pilates with workshops in whole-body wellness, meditation, breathing, nutrition, stretching, aromatherapy and more.
A community of 20 Culinary Cottages and Hillside Haylofts is hidden in a private section of Flora Farms. Due to demand, the popular Hillside Haylofts are no longer available to the general public. Culinary Cottages are for sale only to those who have received a private invitation. With the purchase of the luxurious cottages, guests get unlimited access to the farm’s organic fruits and vegetables from all Flora Farms Fields. Harvesting privileges are some of the most coveted amenities included in the Culinary Cottages and Hillside Haylofts ownership. There is also community pool and hot tub, and the Culinary Cottages have yet another special feature: access to private, unspoiled, serene beach frontage, and perpetual access to the private Beach Club.
Around the farm and gardens are many private outdoor areas for Flora Farms Celebrations. There is a barn in the Mango Grove that is equipped with a private kitchen and bathroom facilities. There’s an herb garden amphitheater, lakeside lawn, and a charming potting shed for smaller groups. The number of guests, time of year and type of celebration help determine which area is best suited. It’s a great place to celebrate the good life.
San Jose del Cabo
Baja California Sur