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3 tips for successful al fresco dining

Gardyn founder, FX Rouxel believes impromptu get-togethers can be just as memorable as formal celebrations. A fantastic storyteller, FX is keen to share tidbits of how living fully means embracing uncomplicated food and uncompromised experiences:

“As a young adult I lived in Provence, in the south of France,” recalls FX. “I still vividly remember the incredible taste of fresh produce. It was easy to find in small markets, harvested just a few hours before, and that made the experience of eating meals so spectacular.”

After collecting fresh produce from the market, FX felt compelled to share his colorful harvest with friends, making spur-of-the-moment gatherings a beautiful memory that’s lasted a lifetime.

Not only did FX connect with friends during his time dining outdoors, he slowed down to connect with nature. On the cusp of patio season, we’ve rounded up 3 ways to pull together a successful last-minute al fresco dining experience…

1. Don’t over think the menu.

Creating a beautiful meal doesn’t have to require a long grocery list and complicated instructions. “A fail-safe dish that’s quick to assemble and full of flavor is a Caprese salad,” shares Katie McCall, food writer, baker, and co-owner of Two Wild Seeds Baking Company.

“Adding greens like tender and mild flashy trout back lettuce leaves can really boost the meal, both visually and nutritionally.”

The caprese salad provides a fresh (and beautiful) option for quick meals.

2. Bring your dishes outdoors.

Who made the rule that you only use paper products when dining outside? Linda McFadden, luxury lifestyle and gathering expert and owner of home good boutique Past Basket, says don’t hesitate to bring your favorite home accents, including dishes and linens, to your open air soiree.

Some hosts are hesitant to bring their dishes out of the house, but I say break from the usual tradition of disposable paper products and bring your brightly colored table linens, napkins, and tableware outside.”

McFadden loves to encourage her clients to intermingle heirloom dishes from relatives (like Granny’s prized china) with fresh designs like Juliska, an artisanal stoneware brand, for versatile dining.

“Juliska is the epitome of mix-and-match,” says Linda, “when it comes to casual and above all – unpretentious – entertaining, it’s nice to have tabletop elements that easily transition outdoors and complement cherished family treasures.”

Image credit: Juliska on Instagram

3. Keep pests away - without harming the environment.

Select a space preferably away from standing water. (Mosquitos love to hang out and party by water.) If electricity is convenient, set up a few fans to circulate the air around your dining space. Plant lemongrass around social areas. 

Short on green space? 

Create small floral arrangements by pulling lavender, mint, rosemary, basil and lemongrass pods (all which naturally repel insects) from your Gardyn and add them to a jar or container with water.

Basil can double as a bug repellant.

Growing food in your home can reestablish a human connection with nature and indulging in a fresh harvest.

An interesting 2019 study from horticultural specialist, Charlie Hall, Ph.D, and fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University, Melinda Knuth, explains that living in spaces with greener areas boosts mental health.

“Interacting with nature, especially with the presence of water, can increase self-esteem and mood, reduce anger, and improve general psychological well-being with positive effects on emotions or behavior.”

With many people lacking access to green spaces, adding a Gardyn to your home provides both access to nature and the occasional sound of water. So even if you can’t dive into the outdoors for an al fresco gathering, you can still benefit from seeing and experiencing the source of your food from seedling to harvest.

How do you dine “out” these days? We’d love to hear from you!

At Gardyn, we believe it is urgent to rediscover what food should be about: fresh, tasty, nutritious, easily accessible — and grown in a sustainable manner, every day. We’re reimagining the future of food for the better, for everyone.

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