The Hope Farm
The phrase “farm to table” can be a loose one, often referring to restaurants who source their ingredients from independent local farms not connected to their own eateries. Bentley Evans, CEO and co-founder of The Hope Farm, is rethinking this term by creating an urban farm and wine bar in Fairhope in which he plans to combine his love for small-scale farming and fresh, on-the-spot ingredients for his fine cuisine and cocktails to create a unique dining experience in the heart of Fairhope.
By Caroline Edmondson
Projected to open in April of 2020, The Hope Farm is the brainchild of Bentley Evans and his father, Robert Evans, having been conceived by a decision to couple Robert’s passion for wine and Bentley’s love for growing food to open a business together. The Hope Farm will allow guests to enjoy a tranquil environment with modern farming, dining, and social experiences featuring a uniquely crafted wine list, fresh “garden to glass” cocktails, and shared plates made with ingredients sourced directly from the farm and local purveyors. “Our goal is to provide a special space for our community where families and friends can come together and experience hope,” Bentley shares. This goal played a large role in choosing The Hope Farm’s Fairhope location, as Bentley and Robert love living in Fairhope and wish to make a positive impact on their community. “Fairhope is a very progressive town and we believe that this concept will be well-received,” Bentley says. “This idea of knowing where your food comes from and feeling connected to the people that are producing it is something special and we want to provide that for them,” he adds.
What makes The Hope Farm so unique is the idea that almost all the ingredients for their menu come from the produce grown on the farm. The Hope Farm uses an environmentally conscious farming method called hydroponics, which allows the farm to grow produce 365 days a year by controlling the environment its plants are grown in. “We will still be using raised beds to grow heartier vegetables on the farm. However, for our lettuces, leafy greens and herbs, we will be utilizing repurposed shipping containers that have been outfitted with state-of-the-art hydroponic systems,” Bentley says. “I chose this hydroponic method of farming for three main reasons: 1) Water usage: More than 90 percent LESS water is used per crop than in traditional agriculture; 2) The ability to control the environment: There is no use of pesticides! There is an efficient use of nutrients by the plants and the plants grow faster and healthier; and 3) Space requirements: With hydroponic farming, in a 400 sq. ft. shipping container we are given a unique opportunity to grow vertically, thus maximizing our plants per square foot to grow more in less space, all while only taking up 400 sq. ft. of land,” Bentley explains.
The Hope Farm will be growing various greens, herbs, seasonal vegetables, and fruits, but the farm’s main crop (and the one Bentley is most excited about) is its gourmet mushrooms that are almost never found locally on a consistent basis. “I would have to attribute my interest in growing mushrooms to my great friend, Allen, and my Uncle Kipp,” Bentley says. “They introduced me to the fascinating world of fungi. I love mushrooms because they are extremely versatile, which gives us the ability to use them in many different applications. We will use them in many of our food offerings, as well as in some fun cocktails – especially our Bloody Mary!”
Although The Hope Farm is intentional about not labeling the style of its cuisine, one thing is for certain: each dish will utilize produce grown on the farm for the freshest ingredients and pull from multi-cultural techniques for a diverse selection of seasonal variety. And for those ingredients The Hope Farm cannot grow such as meats, seafood, cheeses, and some seasonal vegetables, they will be sourcing from local purveyors. And don’t forget about their amazing wine bar, with pairings perfect for any dish on the menu. “Our objective is to elevate the wine culture in our community through the offering of an eclectic and diverse wine list with new and old-world selections for any novice or advanced wine drinker to enjoy,” Bentley shares. “We want to place an emphasis on wine education in order to enhance the guests’ experience while at The Hope Farm.”
Once The Hope Farm opens, Bentley looks forward to interacting with guests and continue working on the farm. “That is where my passion is and I can’t be more excited to wake up each day and go to a job I love doing,” he says. The Hope Farm looks to be the perfect place to relax, enjoy a sense of community with family and friends, and experience all that is cultivated on the farm. Bentley’s hope? “That it becomes something my dad, myself, and our family can be proud of,” he says. “I wish for it to make a positive impact on our community and enrich the lives of those that experience it.”
The Hope Farm
915 Nichols Ave.