Farmers in Mexico’s Riviera Maya are often quick to discuss their challenges with the soil, which is not as rich in nutrients as other areas… A situation that’s in large part due to the Yucatan Peninsula’s limestone bedrock. As tourism in the Riviera Maya region continues to grow, the lack of nutrients in the soil contributes to a growing food-supply challenge for the area’s many hotels, resorts and restaurants.
Fortunately, with challenge comes innovation, and Mexico’s Riviera Maya is also at the heart of an emerging eco-consciousness that is centered on sustainable tourism, including a new farm-to-table dining experience offered by Hacienda Tres Ríos resort in conjunction with Ethos, a local organic farm. Situated just south of Cancun and just north of downtown Playa del Carmen, Hacienda Tres Ríos is an all-inclusive resort that lies within a 326-acre nature park and boasts 273 rooms. As the name suggests, there are three rivers on the property, along with 10 ground-level natural freshwater cenotes and a revived mangrove forest.
Created as part of the Sunset World Resorts “Farm-to-Table” sustainable agriculture program, Ethos is a 3,700-acre farm that employs area farmers and provides local food and plants for the resorts. In fact, Hacienda Tres Ríos guests currently consume around 60 percent of Ethos’ production, but the long-term plan is for the farm to supply food for guests in all of Sunset’s 850 resort rooms.
The new farm-to-table dining program invites Hacienda Tres Ríos patrons and other visitors to tour the Ethos farm and learn about its unique organic and sustainable practices. Guests get to choose a variety of produce and enjoy a chef-prepared lunch featuring the just-harvested ingredients. So much more than just a brief encounter, each visit also includes an educational Segway tour that highlights the farm’s traditional Mayan techniques, which are blended with the latest sustainable farming practices, including hydroponics and organic compost bio-digesters. After the “chef’s table” multi-course lunch, visitors can opt to enjoy a swim in the Ethos pool before heading back to the resort.
“Ethos Farm is the ultimate expression of [our] commitment to the local community and global sustainable tourism practices”, shared Orlando Arroyo, CEO of Sunset World, in an interview with Green Matters last month. “By inviting our guests to enjoy the farm firsthand, we hope to educate the next generation of travelers to demand more sustainable travel experiences that are rich with locally-grown food and flowers grown by local workers, in line with the traditional cultural values of the community”.
Ethos Farm uses only non-polluting energy from more than 300 solar panels and extracts water for the crops from deep within the limestone bedrock. Waste from Sunset World resorts is also used for on-site composting, helping to grow healthy, chemical-free produce for guests.
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