Step outside, pick some lettuce from the garden, make a salad. You can’t get much fresher than fresh-picked—and restaurant chefs are starting to recognize that.

Gardens are fast becoming a mainstay of many full-service restaurants: located on the roof, like the 4,000-square-foot garden atop the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, or incorporated into the landscaping, as at the new Cambridge Mill in Cambridge, Ontario. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2011 “What’s Hot” survey of chefs, hyper-local food—like restaurant gardens, or butcher-your-own meat—ranks number five on their list of top 20 trends.

And, as this blog post points out, with the death toll from the E.coli. outbreak in Europe now at 27, chefs are finding that locally sourced produce is a comfort to patrons, as well as an added level of control over quality for chefs. Other benefits of restaurant-grown produce include reduced food costs and a minimized carbon footprint, both achieved by decreasing the amount of food that needs to be shipped.

Do you have a garden at your restaurant? Do your savings on produce outweigh the time it takes to maintain your patch of green? Leave your story in the comments.

Image credit: Wonderlane