My CIA Farm-to-Table Concentration Experience
How do three months of planting and harvesting your own food on a farm sound?
That’s exactly what I did in the CIA Farm-to-Table Concentration from May to July—learn how to grow and sustain a farm. During my time at the Greystone campus in St. Helena, CA, I took Ecology and Sustainability. In these classes, we learned about every part of the ecosystem, and how it factors into the growing process of plants. We discovered how our actions affect the earth and how we can slowly fix these problems so we can prolong our life here.
One day a week, on Mondays, we took Advanced Cooking. Don’t think if you’re a baker that you can’t take this class because it’s a great chance to expand your knowledge in the culinary field. In class, we learned how to butcher a whole animal, and studied spices and flavor profiling.
A major focus throughout the concentration was community relationships. We went to numerous farms, dairy farms, cheese producers, wine producers, and fisheries in the local region and Bay Area (San Francisco). It was such an amazing experience, one that I will never forget. We got to meet the people who produce the food, see where the animals live and what they were eating, and then try the product on the premises. Learning the story behind these products helped me gain a huge appreciation for all the hard work put into producing the food we eat daily.
Along with the field trips, we had class two times a week on the CIA Farm right across the street from campus, which made it very convenient. Farmer Matt taught us what it was like to run a farm. We learned how to start up the soil and what nutrients it might need, the technique to drop seeds, how to help nourish the plants, and then how to harvest them. The day after we harvested the crops, we had a booth at the local farmers’ market where we rotated jobs and sold our produce.
At the end of our 12-week semester, we worked together with the Advanced Baking and Pastry and Wines class to put on a 12-course meal for 100 people with donated produce, meat, and wine from all the producers we visited. Farm-to-Table changed me—not only the way I eat but the way I live my everyday life.
By Barbara Di Paterio