After the most challenging months of lockdown, and the heavy rains of July 2020, Yucatecan farmers had lost most of their produce and market. Ximena Poblano felt the effects herself.
“I have my own slow-food production, and we were really struggling in 2020, especially after Cristobal,” recalls Ximena. “I knew this was a state-wide situation, and together with local chefs, farmers and producers, we started coming up with different initiatives to help us cope.”
Among these solutions, they came up with an initiative that brought baskets with the farmer’s produce to people’s front door. But Ximena noticed not everyone felt comfortable experimenting with new vegetables in the kitchen.
“People were confused at the beginning. They were given new tools to work with, and even though we provided instructions, people wanted an easier route. So we chose to show them what else is out there, in a presentation ready to enjoy.”
Ximena partnered with José Cetina, founder of organic soap brand Oleva, and together they came up with an experience concept around slow food. Based in Ximena’s plant nursery, Jardín Baldío came to be.
“We wanted to create a safe space for people to come back into the world,” says José. “Something that would help them look at food, and the farming which goes down in the state, with fresh, new eyes.”
Taking up the natural space of Ximena’s vivero, Jardín Baldío is a curated gastronomic experience featuring guest chefs, unique musical selections, and an ambiance that suits the theme of each event.
For their first edition, they produced a formal dinner by Chef Juan Pablo Inés from the Queretaro-based restaurant, Pía.
“The first dinner was inspired by the Peninsula,” says Ximena. “Chef Pablo lived in Tulum for a while, so he knew the ingredients perfectly. We toured the different municipalities from our producers and even wandered around the plant nursery. Pablo knew exactly what to do with everything.”
The event, which took place Dec. 14, featured a selection of tapas paired with their signature mezcal cocktail. All the food was grown in Yucatecan soil and all their drinks were national — including their in-house mezcal: Xicálico.
Their intention is to continue highlighting Yucatán’s produce while working with different chefs and farmers for each event.
“Brands often want exclusivity,” says José. “But everyone who has joined the project understands that this is a community effort. We think that’s something the guests can look forward to as well. You might visit the same place, but you’re bound to experience something new each time.”
Their latest edition, which will take place over the weekend of Sept. 11 and 12, features Chef Mohit Bhojwani Buenfil, who works with local producers Traspatio Maya. This time, the theme is corn, and the meals will highlight the native varieties grown in the region.
José points out that although the events revolve around food, their intention is to expand the universe of experiences available at Jardín Baldío.
“So far we’ve done dinners and brunches, but we think of the project more as a space rather than a service. We want to organize more things in the garden — festivals, bazaars, talks. Anything that can involve delicious food and responsible production.”
Ximena and José place special attention on the quality and freshness of their produce, the golden touch of their experiences. With their knowledge of organic foods and their passion for unique experiences, they’re showcasing the wonders of Yucatecan soil.
“Everything we bring to the table has been cared for completely,” says Ximena. “Everything you enjoy in our experiences, you can find in Yucatán. Dairy, fish, meat, vegetables. They’re all found in the state, grown by amazing people. And they’re all delicious.”
Learn more about Jardín Baldío on Instagram.