Banyan Tree, Boutique Farmers Create Gourmet Organic Farm

CHIANGMAI, THAILAND—Banyan Tree Group has partnered with James Noble, a two-time Michelin-star chef-turned-sustainable farmer of The Boutique Farmers, to open ORI9IN, the first gourmet organic farm here. According to the company, ORI9IN is the only retained farming operation globally that partners with a network of restaurants and hotels to focus on import substitution and reducing carbon footprint without sacrificing flavor.

“We’ve owned the land in Chiangmai for several years, but after meeting James with his passionate vision of expanding his retained farming operation, and also tasting his amazing food, we co-created together to develop ORI9IN,” said Renyung Ho, VP, brand HQ of Banyan Tree Holdings, of the farm set on 350 acres of land. “The number nine in its name pays tribute to the country’s farming father, King Rama IX. This joint venture of agro-tourism aims to lead the curve in sustainable retained farming and cooperatives for living and eating well.”

Set to open to the public in October, ORI9IN features retained farming with farm rental spaces to grow specific ingredients as well as to test and plant overseas products for more than 15 top Michelin-star chefs from Thailand’s restaurants and hotels. Families can also rent land, bond over farming and enjoy the harvest of vegetable and fruit salad, delivered to their home weekly.

“Food choices greatly impact not only our health, but our collective future, and food carbon footprints through the value chain make up one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ho. “Consumer surveys post-COVID have shown that more than three-quarters of consumers will choose to live healthier lifestyles after this pandemic, with food choices and nutrition ranking as one of the top areas for change. Leading the curve in responsible business, this is yet another pioneering initiative by the group to bring personal well-being and the greater good closer together.”

The farm’s community garden grows a variety—aubergine, kale, pumpkins, green beans, basil, lemongrass, garlic and tomatoes—and provides complimentary vegetable harvesting to villagers daily.

The farm’s restaurant, Waiting for May, home to the world’s very first White Menu dining experience, observes provenance and zero waste. Almost all ingredients come from the farm itself or from local cooperatives in an 18.6-mile radius.

“Guests simply write their preferences on a piece of white paper, and then my team and I will create a meal based on those preferences,” said Noble. “I will personally whip up tantalizing dishes using quality products that come into the kitchen from the fields and locally sourced by my wife, May, on the very day itself—a real farm-to-table concept with an element of food surprises.”

According to the chef, menu items include Fig with Tomato Bruschetta & Garlic Flowers, Sweet & Sour Duck Hearts, Sambal Babaganoush Croquettes and Duck Marquez Sausages with Pumpkin Chilli Mash.

He added, “From the Herbalist Medicine Garden, healing plants such as turmeric, ginger, dok kajon, echinacea and gingko can be picked and mixed into bottled drinks as traditional remedies to build immunity.”