Class 11 July 11, 2013 Class Meal

“Today we made a nice meal similar to what [homesteaders] would have when they were settled here. Some of the things we did today included making our own ricotta cheese, butter, and blueberry jam. We also had fresh farm eggs from Blue Heron Farm and bread with flour from Nitty Gritty. Learning how to make butter and cheese was very cool. We also fermented foods which were very delicious. It added more flavor to the food which made them tastier. I learned that the fermented food introduces good bacteria which helps our digestive system.” – Susma, BHS freshman

Today our meal included homemade ricotta (one herbed and one plain) with the milk we bought from Blue Heron Farm, fresh farm egg (also from Blue Heron) frittata with vegetables and herbs from the BHS gardens and our ricotta, bread with wheat flour from Nitty Gritty Co., raw honey, homemade butter with cream from our fresh milk, as well as our wide variety of fermented vegetables from Monday and blueberry and gooseberry fermented drinks! A great way to conclude our week on homesteading.

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Churning butter. Photo by Susma.

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Prepping vegetables for the frittata. Photo by Susma.

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Making ricotta cheese. Photo by Susma.

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Our feast. Photo by Susma.

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Class 10 July 10, 2013 Visit to Blue Heron Farm

By Molly, BHS Junior

Today our class took a fieldtrip to Blue Heron Farm (in Grand Isle, VT) in order to learn a bit about raising livestock for meat, dairy, and other animal products.  Blue Heron is a picturesque certified organic farm, and the people working there were quite friendly and helpful.  We were given a tour in which everyone got to meet the sheep, ducks, chickens, and cows, as well as learn about the care that each kind required.  There were also a fair amount of vegetables being grown there in a large greenhouse.  All in all the experience was great, and it tied in perfectly to this week’s homesteading unit.

Thanks so much to Christine, Adam, Sadie, Delia, and Sophie!

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Feeding the sheep. Photo by Molly.

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Chickens by the trailer chicken coop. Photo by Molly.

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Blue Heron Veggie Greenhouse. Photo by Molly.

Class 8 July 8, 2013: Lacto-fermented vegetables and drinks

“Today, Caroline Homan, from City Market, introduced our class to the process of fermentation. The substances we used for our fermentation were our fresh and healthy garden vegetables!” -Ena, BHS sophomore

As we learned from Caroline, preserving food through fermentation is the process of converting lactose found in raw foods into lactic acid, which creates nutrients, beneficial microorganisms, and more flavor. Today’s lesson commenced our week studying the 1800s and homesteading in Champlain Valley!

Captions and pictures by Ena.

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To start with our thrilling activity, we got hands on with some diverse garden vegetables by cutting them up into ideal pieces to put in our fermenting jar. Some of the delicious vegetables we used were carrots, garlic, beets, peas, and cabbage! 

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Meanwhile, students were invited to beat some cabbage to make it juicy for fermenting (sauerkraut). Students were intrigued by the large, wooden cabbage beater, as it was a new technique for them. As you can see, Molly is hard on the job while having fun! 

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Towards the end of our intriguing day, Caroline provided us with a quick and easy demonstration on how to make lacto-fermented soda using two different methods: the whey culture, done by straining yogurt, and the ginger bug culture, done by adding chopped ginger into a clean mason jar with water and sugar.

Class 7 July 3, 2013: Field trip to Nitty Gritty Grain Company

“Today we went to visit a farm that which contains the machines that harvested wheat.  We saw a wheat farm as well. But the constant rainfall is hurting wheat production very badly. Most farmers need their crops to dry up or they’ll lose profit.” -Anthony, BHS freshman

As Anthony said, it has been a wet season here in Vermont and, if it continues without much sun, the surplus of rain may have detrimental consequences for our farmers. Some of those farmers include the owners of Nitty Gritty Grain Company, a grain farm that we visited today. They remain hopeful for their organic wheat and corn crops, and so do we!

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Heavy duty grain equipment. Photo by Morgan.

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The class in front of the machine. Photo by Morgan.

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More machinery. Photo by Anthony.

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During our tour of Nitty Gritty Grain Co. Photo by Anthony.

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The corn being stored to dry. Photo by Anthony.

Class 6 July 2, 2013: Soapmaking

 Today, BHS science teacher Richard Meyers taught us how to make our own soap. We used olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable shortening, and lye, but learned that back in colonial times they would have used animal lard and wood ash. Who would’ve thought that combination makes for a good cleansing…

After 20 minutes of stirring our soaps, we really appreciated the convenient soaps we have access to today. However, we also realized how easy it is to make our own soap!

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Photos by Sarah.

Class 5: July 1, 2013 Grain-Grinding and Sourdough Bread-Making

“Today we learned about bread baking and grain grinding and we were all surprised at how hard and tedious it was grain grinding. We made delicious sourdough bread and pancakes. Also, our amazing guest speaker let us bring home some sourdough starter of our own so that we could make sourdough at home. I speak for all of us when I say that  this was an amazing and delicious experience!”

-Andrew, BHS freshman, and documentarian of the day

Many thanks to Caroline Homan, our guest speaker from City Market, for sharing her time and sourdough bread-making knowledge with us!

Today marks the first day of our week of Colonialism in Champlain Valley.

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Wheat berries ground into flour. Photo by Morgan.

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Everyone took a turn at grinding the wheat berries into flour. All that work and not much flour! Photo by Andrew.

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Sourdough pancakes! Photo by Morgan.

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Caroline showing us a folding technique. Photo by Andrew.

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The finished product! Photo by Andrew.