The annual Local Foods Showcase during Kingdom Farm and Food Days was an extraordinary opportunity to visit High Mowing Organic Seed’s trial garden in Hardwick, for a guided tour and a taste some of the finest Vermont-made food and culinary delights prepared by chef Ryan O’Malley and students from New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.
The High Mowing Organic Seeds trial garden was open for self-guided and hour-long guided tours throughout the day.
The 5-acre garden-site has rows and rows of raised beds with labeled displays of over 800 vegetable, herb and flower varieties allows visitors to an opportunity to see a wide range of side-by-side comparisons of many popular and some yet-unreleased varieties of plants.
Ever wondered what goes on the behind the scenes to prepare for and manage an off-site catering event?
Food and beverage operations, especially off-site catering – at a rural location, no less – requires professional management. I had an opportunity to witness how students learn by doing.
A group of over a dozen culinary students from NECI volunteered to prepare, arrange and serve food for over 150 people. While the corn crew prepared a fire, student leader/sous chef Matt Skobrak and Chef Ryan O’Malley defined tasks, delagated assignments and organized the students into work units.
NECI chef/instructor Ryan O'Malley
During a tour the students learned learned about the garden trials for plant characteristic selection, and the differences between a myriad of produce varieties.
For Chef Ryan, the event was also an opportunity for students from NECI to personally experience one of the core missions of the school; to share a love of local organic farmers, the food they produce and the importance of having a connectedness to the farm, and how this fits into the issues of environmental sustainability.
A soaking rain after the food showcase was over did not deter the students for a tour of the trial gardens.
Examples of some behind the scene snapshots:
The meal included ‘salsa verde’ goat cheese h’oderves, sausage stuffed zuchinni appetizers and cucumber, melon and mint canapes, plus roasted corn, and grilled veggie sandwiches on focaccia bread, BLTs, cheese platters, goat cheese cheesecake, chocolate zucchini bread and specialty fruitcake.
Many of the menu items were based on produce availability and contribution from Pete’s Greens
BA Culinary student Matt Skobrak
whipped up a variety of h’orderves of his own creation using locally grown produce including: cucumbers, heirloom zuchinni and tomatoes, chili peppers, green onions and lemon balm.
“Today was a showcase of the types of things we do everyday and not always visible to the public,” concluded Chef Ryan at the end of the day.