Tag: farm to table

Building a community sustainably along the Emerald Coast

Building a community sustainably along the Emerald Coast

As we come upon our 25th anniversary, we can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come from the days of a single Clubhouse at Playa Santana to the expansive resort and residential community that is Rancho Santana today. Although we’ve grown exponentially here at The Ranch, many things have remained ingrained in our vision and way of life. 

Almost from the moment our founders first stepped foot on The Ranch, they knew they had stumbled upon something special. Back then this was just a Ranch, remote, with limited access to utilities and daily necessities. It became clear that to make our vision of Rancho Santana come to fruition, we would need to find innovative solutions. For The Ranch, self-sufficiency has been of the utmost importance, as is being able to contribute to the growth and development of local communities.

Out of necessity, we learned to work with nature as opposed to taming it. Over time, this way of developing has become a part of our company ethos, so much so that twenty-five years from now, we hope you will still see deer and monkeys on your morning hike or bike ride.

Our Sustainability Practices

We found that turtles came here regularly to lay eggs and developed a program to help protect them from poachers and predators. Year-long sunlight is one of the main features of life in the tropics, one we make the best of by generating clean solar energy to power The Inn and The Clubhouse amenities.

As our amenities have grown, so has our community, which is comprised not only of our guests and residents but the people that have contributed to making The Ranch what it is today. Rancho Santana is the largest employer in the city of Tola and the second largest in the department of Rivas. Over the years, we’ve become familiar with entire families who have worked in some capacity at The Ranch.

Aside from employment, we provide resources and support to nearby communities that are often affected during the rainy season. Building homes and water solutions to improve the living conditions of local families so that they can withstand heavy rains in the future. 

So how do we service 2,700 acres of property, 17 rooms and 21 Residences at The Inn, and a growing community of residents and guests daily?

Well, we lean on our Farm and Garden. The Santana Farms have been an integral part of our growth, supplementing the majority of the ingredients used in all four of our restaurants and sold in La Tienda.

The farm and garden program has allowed us to grow sustainably and responsibly, and monitor the handling of ingredients before they even get to the plate. The benefits are twofold: for our guests, because they know exactly where their food comes from; and for the environment, because we use small-scale sustainable processes.

Currently, we grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables. From our farm, we source lamb, pork, and beef and milk used to produce everything from a variety of cheeses to yogurt and ice cream right on site. Anything we can’t grow at our Farm & Gardens, we source locally with trusted co-ops and fishermen.

With such a vast property and so many ventures, we consider the life cycle of everything we use; promoting recyclable and biodegradable materials in our restaurants and kitchens, composting organic waste and using it as fertilizer for our farm and garden, and going so far as to grow our own feed for our farm animals. 

As we look to the future, we are excited to develop even more creative solutions that will honor this community and our natural environment and continue to make a positive impact on this earth. 

How we developed our Cheese-making process.

farm fresh cheese rancho santana

Over the years, our culinary program has developed beyond just fresh vegetables and fruit, to include a fully functional on-site farm producing meats and dairy on a daily basis. We had envisioned evolving our dairy program to include a wider variety of products, and over the course of time have been able to perfect recipes for everything from cheese to yogurt. We started our cheese making with the basics, fresh cheeses like the local criollo, feta and cream cheeses as well as sour cream and over time have perfected the processes of producing aged cheeses. Aged cheeses require much closer attention and very precise conditions to ensure food safety and develop perfect texture and flavor.

Just as with everything else we do at Rancho Santana, our cheese program is based on keeping things as natural as possible. We strive for low-intervention and minimal processing, for instance using only raw milk in the process. Many processed cheeses use pasteurized milk, introducing sterile cultures later into the process. With our method, we create ideal conditions and monitor our cheeses with careful attention to ensure the growth of good bacteria and food safety. Healthy bacteria is a crucial ingredient in developing a rich cheese with a depth of flavor—a key to making delicious cheese.

By creating two special, temperature-controlled rooms, our team has been able to achieve their goals of experimentation with a larger variety of cheeses. At the facility, the rooms are kept in perfect conditions for the cheese-making process. This control paired with the unmatched talents of the team has allowed us to create phenomenal aged cheeses, such as our bloom-rind goat and cow milk cheeses—La Chela and La Reina, respectively.

If you’d like to try our dairy offerings, be sure to stop by La Tienda. There you will find everything from Feta and Mozzarella to more complex varieties like Parmesan, Cheddar, and Alpine-style cheese.