Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturdays 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Broken Bow’s Prairie Grounds Café & Gifts Offers Fresh, Homegrown Meals
With food documentaries like “What The Health,” “Food, Inc.,” “Super Size Me,” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” flooding Netflix, one can’t help but wonder about our food sources and how it’s prepared. Nutrition labels can be difficult to read, and “bad” food often goes by several different names.
Prairie Grounds Café & Gifts in Broken Bow serves delicious lunch items like sandwiches and pastries, and if customers order a salad, they can show them right where it comes from because it’s grown inside the café.
Using Aeroponics to Provide Healthy Menu Choices
Barb and Tom Myers purchased Prairie Grounds Café & Gifts eight years ago and began offering a variety baked goods and healthy alternatives to fast food. Rising food costs and the poor quality of fresh produce available forced them to re-evaluate how to accomplish their goals.
Their son, Dusty, is a certified personal and group trainer and has become more involved in the business, and his influence has also spurred changes in the cafe.
Dusty’s passion for health and fitness has been an asset for the family business. With consumers becoming more knowledgeable and conscious about their food choices, Dusty has been searching for a way to meet the growing demand for nutritious meals when eating out.
This summer, with help from longtime friend and Juice Plus Distributor Abe Hinman of Callaway, Dusty purchased a Juice Plus Tower Garden, a vertical aeroponic growing system that allows him to grow up to 20 vegetables, herbs, and fruits in less than three square feet—indoors or out. Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment rather than soil.
“Our customers love being able to see their food growing right here in the café,” Dusty said.
With the addition of just one Tower Garden, Prairie Grounds Café & Gifts has been able to serve their customers fresh, homegrown salads and toppings. “You can taste the freshness of the lettuce,” Dusty said. “We’ve also grown eggplant, cucumbers, spinach, and tomatoes on it. We’re going to try adding kale on the next go ‘round.” Salads can also be topped with Barb’s homemade croutons.
Homegrown Produce Offers Long-Term Savings
While purchasing the Tower Garden required an initial investment, Dusty said it’s actually going to save them money over the long term. “By growing our own food, we can provide superb nutrition and freshness every day by harvesting only what we need and when the food is at its ripest. Purchasing large amounts of produce that has been through several handlings and shipping was not giving us the quality and food value we wanted.”
Dusty said, “We’re still learning how to time plantings so everything is ready at the same time, since some foods are ready to harvest before others. That part has been more challenging than I thought.”
While the Tower Garden doesn’t grow the food any faster, it grows them very well. Barb has a degree in horticulture and commented, “I’m very impressed with the design and quality of the Tower Garden.”
Dusty would love to have another Tower Garden or two down the road to expand their menu. “It’s so easy to use; I don’t have to keep a constant eye on it. The lights and water pump are on a timer so it mostly takes care of itself. I just add water to the tank about once a week.” The unit is also on wheels, so it can be moved around as needed.
Other Tasty Selections
Other selections on the menu include various flavors of whole rolled oats, artisan loose-leaf teas, and the highest-quality gourmet coffee found in the area. “Our coffee includes the farmer’s name and information so you know exactly where it’s from,” Dusty said. Soy or coconut milk is also available for lattes upon request for those sensitive to dairy or who prefer a vegan alternative.
Prairie Grounds Café & Gifts list of healthy food choices also includes sandwiches, soups and wraps.
“We may serve ‘typical items,’ but we use ingredients, where possible, that make even those items healthier,” Dusty said. “If the tower garden runs out, we supplement with fresh, organic lettuces if available.”
A Place to Shop and Visit
Their small gift shop featuring mostly Nebraska-made products is also fun to browse…even down to the canvas paintings on the walls. “We like to promote other Nebraska businesses, especially those in our area,” Barb said.
Stop in at Prairie Grounds Café & Gifts on Highway 2 in downtown Broken Bow next to the Custer County Museum and enjoy your favorite specialty drink indoors or in the peaceful setting of the carefully manicured outdoor patio area. It’s the perfect place to reconnect with a friend or break up a scenic drive on the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. Open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m.-2 p.m.