Our New Herb Garden
by Yoko Minoura
By midsummer, diners at Tetherow may have the chance to sample dishes flavored with the freshest ingredients possible – herbs grown literally in the resort’s backyard.
A roughly square-shaped raised bed, about 10 feet per side, has been built outside the Event Pavilion kitchen’s receiving door, on the south side of the building. Ringed with spray heads for watering and filled with soil intended for that use, the future herb garden occupies what was originally empty, leftover space.
“The area seemed to fit, (with) the proximity to the kitchen,” Director of Agronomy Chris Condon said. “It was essentially a non‑usable space for anything but the herb garden.”
The idea for the new garden originated with Banquet Chef Miguel Mendoza, who has been able to take advantage of kitchen gardens in a couple previous jobs – including one at the Broken Top Club restaurant in Bend.
“It’s a growing trend, for a lot of finer dining establishments to have these gardens onsite,” he said. “I just happened to notice this particular space (at Tetherow) that wasn’t being utilized for anything, and I approached Chris Condon and the van der Veldes about it this spring.”
Although there are no firm plans yet, Mendoza said it’s likely they will try to grow sage, rosemary, and thyme in the garden, all of which are perennials. Other possibilities could be mint, lemon balm, or even chili peppers.
Ongoing operation, from planting to harvest, will be a team effort, hopefully involving not only kitchen staff but anyone with a willingness to help.
“None of us has the time to do it by ourselves, but if we work together, it’ll be a beautiful benefit,” Café Manager Joe Benevento said. He plans to contribute to the effort, having spent time working on a commercial farm, Good Earth Farms in northeast Bend, prior to coming to Tetherow.
The biggest need may be finding someone with expertise in thwarting deer, birds and other pests.
According to Condon, the deer repellant used on ornamental plants at Tetherow is a cayenne pepper‑based spray. Although it is nontoxic, it must be continuously applied to be effective, and it is unclear how it might affect plants meant for human consumption. Mendoza said they may look into companion planting, such as creating a border of deer and pest‑repelling vegetation.
Despite the challenges, he’s excited about the garden’s potential.
“It’s a sort of fun alternative to constantly having to purchase product,” Mendoza said. “When you can harvest and utilize food you grow yourself, you have a bit more connection to it, a bit more pride in ownership.”
“It’d be great to offer things that are truly unique, that you can’t find (just) anywhere,” he said. “We all love to use the edible flowers, but they’re not always cost effective. And there’s always something special about something you’ve grown in-house on the plate.”
Benevento said there is a noticeable difference between herbs picked minutes or hours ago versus those harvested days or weeks ago. The longer a plant is stored, the more essential oils – key components in fragrance and flavor – are lost to evaporation.
“We want to be the best at everything, and these are little ways to do it,” he said.
Mendoza said that a successful garden, that is beautiful as well as functional, fits in well with Tetherow’s environmental mission.
“It’s part of our dedication to being stewards of the land, our environmental stewardship, along with being Audubon (certified),” he said. “Or it could just be feeding the birds.”