Banyan Tree opens organic farm in Thailand with Michelin-starred chef
When ORI9IN, located near Chiangmai, opens to the public in October, visitors can experience farm-to-table dining, purchase fresh produce, and enjoy a stunning backdrop for weddings and corporate events.
Singapore-founded hospitality group Banyan Tree has opened Thailand’s first gourmet organic farm. Located in Chiangmai, the farm, named ORI9IN, is a joint venture between Banyan Tree and James Noble, two Michelin-starred chef turned sustainable farmer and founder of The Boutique Farmers.
Set on 140 hectares of land, ORI9IN features retained farming and farm rental spaces to grow specific ingredients, as well as to test and grow overseas products for over 15 top Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels in Thailand. Some of these restaurants include Paste Bangkok, Suhring, R-Haan and Igniv.
"This new farm in Chiangmai is our flagship pilot for sustainable farming for healthier eating, and we definitely have intentions to expand. A partnership grounded on the passion for a sustainable future through food, this enterprise leverages the post COVID-19 quest for better health and wellbeing," said Ho Renyung, Vice-President, Brand HQ of Banyan Tree.
Families can also rent land, bond over farming and enjoy their harvests, which will be delivered to their homes weekly. The farm’s community garden grows a variety of vegetables, including aubergine, kale, chillies, pumpkins, green beans, basil, lemongrass, garlic and tomatoes. It also provides complimentary vegetable harvesting to villagers daily.
"A partnership grounded on the passion for a sustainable future through food, this enterprise leverages the post COVID-19 quest for better health and wellbeing." – Ho Renyung
The farm will officially open to the public this October and will feature a zero-waste fine-dining experience for guests. The farm’s restaurant, named Waiting For May, is home to the world’s first white menu experience: Guests simply write their preferences on a piece of white paper, and then Noble and his team will whip up a meal based on those preferences.
“To enable a zero-waste kitchen, diners experience an alternative gastronomy of fine-dining where ingredients and produce take centrestage over price and plate presentation. I will personally whip up tantalising 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,” Noble said.
“Luxury is changing. Fine-dining is changing. What people want from the new norm is to know where their food is coming from. They care much more about the process than whether there’s a white cloth on the table. This is the future.”
With the change in seasons, each dish may never repeat itself, with the ingredients dictating the culinary direction. Healthy traditional techniques will also be incorporated to the process of procuring and cooking the ingredients, including 16-hour earth oven roasting, fermenting, sun-drying, pickling and curing of the food.
The farm will also have venues for wedding and corporate events. For the general public, there will be ticketed options for different experiences, including an exploration of a maize maze, live demonstrations at jam and ketchup factories, and a first-hand experience of crop planting. On a visit to ORI9IN, guests will also be able to purchase the farm’s fresh produce.
“Luxury is changing. Fine dining is changing. What people want from the new norm is to know where their food is coming from. They care much more about the process than whether there’s a white cloth on the table." – James Noble
The farm is a 30-minute drive from Chiangmai. “Looking ahead, we will provide other modes of transport such as shuttle bus service for guests from Chiangmai to our farm in the future,” Noble said.
In the future, guests may also book a unique farm stay experience on the land. “Currently, there is no Banyan Tree resort nearby,” Ho said. “But we are definitely exploring the option of a unique accommodation concept as we think many travellers would be excited about a farm stay experience in nature, especially post COVID-19.”