Despite Drought Conditions, Tennessee's Commodore Hotel and Cafe is still “Green”

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Small town Hotel with top-rated restaurant creates savory dishes from it's own organically grown garden.

Named for a battle victor from the War of 1812, the historic Commodore Hotel & Café, has created its own “Victory Garden” on a patch of ground in Downtown Linden. Along with other local partners, they are now offering a “Farm-to-Table” dining experience, which has become a popular phenomenon around the country.

“Farm-to-Table has been our vision since we opened, and now everything has lined up to make it a reality,” says owner Kathy Dumont. The recent addition of Gardener and Chef David Bedwell caused their vision to come to life. Hotel Bedwell has a passion for finding the best ingredients possible and has discovered that being able to control the process, from seed to harvest to table, affords a pride and a certainty in the quality of ingredients. Bedwell adds, “We source as much food locally as we can, saving the thousands of miles ingredients typically travel through the traditional food supply network. We are able to add extreme quality to our finished product while shrinking our carbon footprint, and passing on the savings to our customers.”

The Commodore hopes to grow crops year round. You might see salad greens, squash or zucchini bread on the menu. Peaches and cucumbers came in the Spring. Throughout the summer you’ll see green beans, eggplant, tomatoes, and even fresh-cut flowers on the tables. Kathy says, “The exciting part is – it’s not unusual to see the restaurant chefs out in the garden gathering vegetables and herbs for the day’s specials.”

The garden not only benefits patrons and guests of the Commodore Hotel & Café, but the community as well. Bedwell plans to use the garden as a classroom for teaching children where our food comes from. “We’ll start with preparing the soil and planting the seeds,” says Bedwell. “I can’t wait to see their faces when the plants start sprouting. Those tiny seeds might grow into a love of gardening – that can last a lifetime.”

There is a small community of loca-vores in the Linden area – and it’s growing. Another shopkeeper, Renee Schmidt, of Dimples, started a local farmer’s market in her downtown shop & café. “The response has been amazing,” says Schmidt. Local farmers sell or trade their fruits, vegetables, and even handmade soaps and body products to Dimples, then she offers them to the public in a beautiful display and air-conditioned shop. She marks each product with the farmer’s name and location…adding another feeling of connection to local community. She recently added another feature: local ladies come in as “guest bakers” and prepare goodies from organic energy bites to blueberry muffins to gluten-free French bread. “They are selling like hot-cakes! Literally!” says Schmidt.

Stop by Linden on your way to the Tennessee River – or Nashville or Memphis. Not only will you love the small-town 1940’s atmosphere, and local arts district, but you’ll experience a community effort of slow food. Commodore Hotel & Café, 114 East Main Street (Rte 412), Linden, TN. http://www.commodorelinden.com

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