The Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton is using a new rooftop vegetable garden to expand its menu while going green.
"It's all about the quality, and again this is why we're doing this to deliver the best quality we can to our guests," said the hotel's executive chef, David Hamilton.
The initiative is designed to be a low-cost, high quality alternative to trucking in produce from out of town.
Hamilton says he plans to have much of what he's growing go from the garden to the dinner table quickly, "Super fresh, it won't get any fresher--as a matter of fact in some instances it will be just minutes before, between the time the product is picked and actually served."
The rooftop garden uses water from the hotel's air conditioning unit to care for the vegetables.
The Stonewall Jackson's general manager, Carol Simon, says staffers are also using materials that were once thrown away to maintain the project.
"What we've done is literally from pizza boxes to cans, instead of throwing them out we're able to take the seedlings and make them grow into little plants and then we repot them," she said.
Hotel gardeners expect more than 400 tomatoes and 20 lbs. of peppers this summer.
Simon says staff will get a workout before the vegetables make it to the table, "This is right in the top of the hotel and the only way to get up here is through stairs, so it is a great exercise program for our staff also. "
The new garden cost the hotel $200. Chef Hamilton is planning to incorporate the produce into new recipes throughout the summer.