Since 2005, Payne’s has operated with the philosophy that food ought to be “good.”  That is, every aspect of our food—taste or flavor, smell, presentation, quality—ought to inspire the response, “this is good.”  Moreover, Payne’s has taken this same approach to other aspects of the business: from the dining room design, to the patio pergolas, to the timeliness of the kitchen and wait staff.  Again, to inspire customers’ response to their visit as something truly good.  Again this spring, under the direction of Payne’s employee Michael Kotlarski, a garden for Payne’s will be continued and expanded.  With respect to the earth, as well as the dish, this organic garden will bring a natural extension to our good food operation.

Many of the farms and gardens in the United States and around the world have given in to the idea that only production matters.  With this limited view, the land and its’ ecology have suffered, not to mention people’s health and appreciation for quality crops.  The garden for Payne’s opposes this view, and establishes good farming practices, respecting the soil and the plants.  No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, nor genetically modified seed (GMO) will ever touch the soil.  Instead, selected heirloom and organic varieties of vegetables will grow in thirteen natural cedar raised beds, enriched with homegrown compost, and irrigated with collected rain water.

Each bed is 90 square foot, and will contain aesthetically beautiful, uniquely delicious varieties such as Pink Beauty and Mountain Magic tomatoes, Genovese basil and Calypso cilantro, Mint, Amiga and Armenian cucumber, Rainbow and Nectar carrot, alongside varieties of pole beans, rutabaga (suede), potato, Brussels sprout, onion, radish, celery, and leek.  Spinach and kale, cornerstones to the new Payne’s salads, will encircle each of these raised beds.

To date, the materials for garden infrastructure, tools, and seed packets have arrived.  The planting schedule is in place; the compost continues to break down.  Most of the garden will be directly seeded after the twentieth of April, the average last frost date for Grant County.  Other plants, such as the kale and Brussels sprouts, are started indoors and transplanted slightly prior to this date.  In the interim, construction of the cedar beds and other infrastructure progress.

Challenges to the garden this season include awaiting the thaw of the harsh winter in order to begin operations, organizing and implementing a system for garden maintenance and vegetable harvest and washing, establish an organic integrated pest management system for potential harmful critters and bugs, and deeply inculcate a balance of organic practice with production and efficiency into garden workers.


–Michael Kotlarski
Payne’s Garden Manager