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Jardín Baldío: Yucatán is growing wonderful food. Here’s where to enjoy it.

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Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

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.

Yucatecan production of native corn, by Traspatio Maya. Photo: Traspatio Maya

“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.

Dinner is set up in one of Jardín Baldío’s latest events. Photo: Jardín Baldío

“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.

Ximena Poblano and José Cetina, in one of their first events. Photo: Jardín Baldío

“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. 

Most events happen during dinner hours, but Jardín Baldío has branched out into brunches and expects more day-time events. Photo: Jardín Baldío

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.”

A dish created for one of the first editions of the event. All the ingredients used are local. Photo: Jardín Baldío

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.

Chef Juan Pablo Inés, in the first edition of Jardín Baldío. Photo: Jardín Baldío

“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.

Ambiance, music, and food are all specially curated for each edition. Photo: Jardín Baldío

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.”

Chef Regina Escalante, from renowned local restaurant “Merci”, was another guest chef, at the beginning of the year. Photo: Courtesy of Jardín Baldío

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.

Table set up in Ximena’s vivero, next to a lily pond. Photo: Jardín Baldío

“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.

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