As local farms gain popularity with the UAE’s top restaurants and pickiest chefs (who imported almost all the ingredients but a few years ago), one Sharjah hotel is taking small steps in harvesting its own harvests, then by including each freshly produced batch in its daily menu.
Coralganic, as the miniature farm is known, was launched on Earth Day in April and is the brainchild of Iftekhar Hamdani, general manager of the Coral Beach Resort area and Bahi Ajman, two hotels owned by Hospitality Management Holding.
In just six months, 450 square meters of land, located on the premises of the property, produced more than 60 kilograms of crops which are used in the hotel’s kitchens. “A harvest day is like a lucky day”, says Hamdani The National. “It’s like yesterday when we started with a simple plot and built Coralganic and now we are reaping what we have sown.”
Hamdani says the crops – which include cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, young radishes, mint leaves and lady’s fingers – are produced using sustainable farming methods and are certified organic. “We have taken small steps and we are learning along the way. Although the quality of the lady’s finger was not very good, the mint and tomatoes grew well all year round.
From the start of its foray into agriculture, the resort formed a “green team” made up of staff from various departments who volunteered to receive training in sustainability and culinary practices. “We hired them to educate them to be part of the journey,” says Hamdani. The hotel also has two gardeners who take care of the farm and manage the green landscape.
Chef Sumeet Soni is also involved in the project. From picking vegetables to infusing them in the buffet, Soni ensures that fresh yield is part of the culinary offerings.
Customers can also choose to be part of the experience. “We take them to visit the farm and show them how we grow the vegetables and then use them in the menu. Hamdani says an Emirati, who has been a patron for 20 years, has noticed the change in the freshness of the food. “This gentleman is a coffee lover, but he now also enjoys the green tea that we serve him with mint freshly picked from our farm.”
The plot of land has already been prepared for the second round, as October through April gives the best harvests, said Hamdani, who is also working to eliminate plastic bottles at the two hotels he manages. .
“I am liaising with the Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort team as they have eliminated plastic bottles from their property by introducing the Infinity water system and we hope to adopt a similar system very soon,” he said. he declares.
The teams are also actively involved in the protection of the mangroves of the Al Zorah nature reserve in Ajman. Mangrove forests are capable of storing 10 times more carbon than terrestrial ecosystems, which puts them at the forefront of climate change, explains Hamdani.
“With sea level rise, mangroves are essential as we believe they will play an important role in protecting our shores from erosion. In my opinion, the mangroves are part of the heritage of the United Arab Emirates, and it is our responsibility to protect them, ”said Hamdani, whose name can be found prominently in the Syria pavilion for the duration of the l ‘Expo 2020 Dubai, in recognition of its eco-friendly efforts.
Update: November 5, 2021, 5:12 am