St. Paul’s venerable Town & Country Club has gone a different kind of green in its kitchen and is in the process of doing likewise on the grounds of the state’s oldest golf course.
And its efforts are being noticed. Town & Country is the first private club to receive green certification from the Green Restaurant Association.
“It is a monumental achievement,” said association founder and CEO Michael Oshman. “Town & Country is only one of two private clubs and the only golf club to receive this certification.”
The 125-year-old club, which also has tennis and swimming-pool facilities, has taken on some elements of a truck farm in its march to sustainability. The dining room recently received certified green status for having its own bee hive to produce honey, a garden for fresh produce and a brood of chickens to supply eggs. The chickens are off site but eventually will move onto the club grounds and be near the bees.
The kitchen is in the process of adding other energy-saving enhancements, including a biodiesel process for converting used vegetable oil into fuel and composting to reduce waste. Eco-unfriendly Styrofoam cups and plastic utensils are a thing of the past.
In U of M study
The club, on North Mississippi River Blvd. and Marshall Av., is also involved in a study with the University of Minnesota to understand the impact of nitrates in runoff water from the course. That issue prompted the club to redesign its creek system more than 10 years ago in order to contain sentiment before it left the course grounds and headed to the Mississippi River.
“Our thought process has changed. We now ask ourselves, ‘Is this green?’ ” said General Manager Vincent Tracy. “The biggest expense we’ve had has been replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient ones over the last few years, but otherwise we’ve actually ended up saving money.”
In partnership with the University of Minnesota, the club’s “hive-to-bottle” initiative allows it to raise bees and harvest honey. About 80 pounds of honey will be produced this year (about 9 gallons) to be bottled and sold to members, Tracy said.
The golf-course grounds also feature a garden where head chef John Cain and his staff can harvest their own vegetables and herbs. The club’s recently acquired chickens already provide eggs for the kitchen.
“This brings value to members,” Tracy said. “And it might attract new members, too.”