Erin Wade of Vinaigrette started off farming before opening the first location of the healthy gourmet salad emporium in Santa Fe, New Mexico, followed by a second in Albuquerque, and then the latest in Austin. While she spent some time studying fashion design, her background in biology, environmental science, and public policy led her down the “agroecological” path she’s on now.
What this looks like in practice is a vertical farming operation that provides local, seasonal, organic produce for the restaurants and using food waste from the restaurants as compost to feed the soil on the Vinaigrette farms. The Texas one is located out in Bastrop.
“Recycling doesn’t have the brilliance of composting, where you close the loop and waste becomes food,” says Wade. “It’s like alchemy—you’re making soil that creates this incredible produce. Restaurants have an enormous potential to increase the richness of the soil, it’s where flavor comes from.”
Other sustainable, eco-friendly practices at Vinaigrette include using reclaimed wood and stone in the construction of the Austin restaurant, and watering the on-site garden with extra water guests don’t consume.