Just in time for summer, Nick’s Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar and Cottages is announcing Frog Creek Farms, its new on-site farm and garden that is already producing most of the restaurant’s leafy greens and eggs. Over the past four months, Ross Barlow, Nick’s Cove’s new master gardener and organic farmer, has started to realize general manager Dena Grunt’s dream of turning the hillslope across the road into a thriving and bountiful organic farm. Recently selected as one of the “40 Best Food Lovers’ Hotels in America” by Bon Appétit magazine, Nick’s Cove will soon be offering guests the opportunity to explore the source of their food firsthand. By the end of the summer, visitors will be able to take a walk around the grounds either before or after their meal, chat with Barlow about the farm and enjoy the views of Tomales Bay from the unique perspective of Frog Creek Farms.
Grunt invited Barlow to join the team at Nick’s Cove in February 2013 and he immediately set out to uncover lost pathways and forgotten flowerbeds in the then-dormant garden. The formerly overgrown space has evolved into Frog Creek Farms, complete with a chicken coop that is home to 35 egg-laying chickens (as well as one rooster named Slick Rick) and a 3.5-acre garden that is already producing more than 50 pounds of mixed lettuces and 40 pounds of kale per week. Some of the other produce that is in the works, likely ready to harvest this fall, includes heirloom potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, pumpkins, and squash, to name a few. Grunt hopes that eventually Frog Creek Farms will supply all of the produce used in the restaurant at Nick’s Cove, including fruit from the soon-to-be-planted coastal fruit trees and herbs from their extensive herb garden, which Barlow planted in the empty hull of an old wooden boat on the property. There are also plans in the works for an on-site greenhouse for germinating seeds and acclimating them to Tomales Bay, a series of pathways made from recycled oyster shells from nearby Drake’s Bay, and a bocce ball court with a seating area for guests to enjoy as they explore the farm and enjoy all that the property has to offer.
Barlow built Frog Creek Farms following a balanced and natural approach to farming that relies on using only local and organic ingredients in the soil, including seaweed, oyster shells and chicken droppings from his on-site chicken coops. He believes that when a garden is nurtured with these organic ingredients the produce is naturally more vibrant and robust, and that guests at Nick’s Cove will be able to taste the difference. His first foray into creating a working farm specifically for a restaurant has proven very rewarding, from working closely with Grunt to ensure that the farm is a place where guests can relax and enjoy themselves, to collaborating with Nick’s Cove’s executive chef Austin Perkins on a farm-focused menu.
For those wishing to stay the night at Nick’s Cove and enjoy a farm-fresh breakfast delivered to their room in the morning, there are 12 luxury cottages on the property, five located on the water of Tomales Bay and seven across Highway One, next to the farm’s gardens, with breathtaking water views. The perfect place to relax and unwind, the cottages are designed with a rustic nautical elegance and are appointed with luxurious cotton linens, plush down comforters, and cotton duvets. Other amenities include rainforest showers, heated ceramic tile floors, plasma TVs, WiFi, organic bath amenities by EO, plush robes and slippers in every room. Several cottages also offer large soaking clawfoot tubs, wood burning stoves, and a fully-stocked honor bar.