Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday Farm Fun

Big day yesterday.*

We spent the morning at Bread and Butter Farm in neighboring Shelburne. Farmer-owner Corie took us on a tour of the farm including:
and a greenhouse full of spinach and kale.
 Fresh greens! In Vermont in March!
 Then there was my favorite, the bakery.
 Every Friday between five hundred and seven hundred loaves of bread come out of that oven. The varieties are impressive, including three-seed and raisin rye.
 An unexpected highlight was the opportunity to go into the pasture to hang out with the cows. A parent commented to me, in amazement, that Corie showed a huge amount of trust in my class to allow them into the field en masse to be with the cows. Friendly "girls" quickly approached us a started sniffing and licking at us!
 Before we broke for lunch, Corie gave the class a chore: rip last year's kale stalks out of the beds and take them to the compost pile. It didn't take this group of hard workers very long to complete the task!
Most of my students are very familiar with some element of farm life. As rural Vermont kids, if they don't have parents, grandparents, or aunts and uncles running farms, someone they know works on a farm. They've spent their time in barns and fields; they don't freak out about walking through a field filled with cow patties.

But my guess is few of them are familiar with this sort of farming. Bread and Butter Farm is a  diversified farm that started three and a half years ago on generational family farm land put under conservation easement through the Vermont Land Trust. Corie and head baker, Adam, purchased the land and launched a farm that produces a variety of items and offers many services to the community including Burger Fridays and a new summer camp venture. Corie gave us a tour appropriate for older kids; we had fun petting pigs and baby calves, but we also talked about sustainable farming practices.
After we ate lunch and said our goodbyes, we drove up to Burlington to look for food that came from non-local sources. Each continent group went to a different ethnic market, in search of foods (primarily fresh produce) that came from countries in the continent they'd studied. There were a couple of glitches with this grand plan, and because of a closed store, two groups ended up in an African market together. As luck would have it, the proprietor is a former home economic teacher from Ghana. After she sold some dried fish to a customer, she turned off the lively African music that filled the store, and taught us more about cassava than I knew there was to know, all in about five minutes!
Back at school each group told about the items they found. We had three forms of cassava (cassava flour, gari, and tapioca) along with pounded yam from Africa. There were two varieties of mango, a guava, and a chayote from South America. The Australia group, thinking about the greater zone of Oceania, found kiwi (New Zealand), Roobios tea (Aboriginal bush tea) and poppy seeds (Tasmania - who knew?). The Asia group had the biggest bonanza: Asian plums, plantains, Chinese cucumbers, Asian chives,  and hot peppers.
Some kids chopped up the produce that was ripe and ready, while others sliced Thursday's Around the World bread. A few chose to do some quick research about the guava and chayote. Were they ripe? No. They're in a paper bag on  the counter, getting ready for snack time on Monday.

Then we ate. Two types of mango were sampled and compared. Three loaves out of four were gone in fifteen minutes. 
 And I looked at all the food we hadn't eaten, items requiring further preparation, and wondered what next week would bring.

*The whole field trip was funded through a Farm to School grant. I am so very appreciative for the support.

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