There’s a new way to embrace the farm-to-table movement on Martha’s Vineyard. The FARM Institute in Katama offers a huge variety of Wednesday workshops and a host of other classes that inform folks on the journey food takes from pasture to plate. The Times attended an open house showcasing the teaching kitchen to the public, where delicious homegrown food was enjoyed by all.
The series of classes provided to the public by The Trustees of Reservations, Martha’s Vineyard director Sam Hart said, integrate the full food cycle, allowing for a better understanding of where our food is sourced.
It all started with a children’s course on the food cycle, but Hart said he felt the FARM Institute was doing a disservice to the community by not providing adults with this information as well.
“We figured adults deserve to have this information too, because in the world we live in, a lot of this isn’t necessarily common knowledge,” Hart said. “In years past, people knew where their food came from; there wasn’t as much of a disconnect.”
Hart said people shopping at a grocery store only see the consumer side of things, when the bulk of the process takes place before food reaches the market.
One element to the class, Hart said, is encouraging people to reduce the amount of food they waste.
By giving consumers the whole picture, Hart said a new respect for food can be found. “We really show every element of food production, from harvesting to processing. That way, people see all the work that goes into each meal,” Hart said.
And this wisdom doesn’t get left in the FARM Institute kitchen. Hart explained how people share their newfound knowledge of food with friends and family, making for a more informed populace.
For Hart, infusing the next generation with a sense of understanding of farms and food is essential. “We are living in an era where lots of children don’t know where their food is coming from,” Hart said. “The onus really falls on us to encourage the next generation to support sustainable agriculture.”
Hart said the FARM Institute provides a “powerful message” with the classes to people from around the country, and the world.
“People come here from dense urban environments, they come here from all around, to see how food is harvested and prepared,” Hart said. “They learn quickly that healthy food is part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle.”
For many who have passed through the doors of the FARM Institute, the knowledge imparted by instructors has carried back to their hometown. Hart said a camper from Brooklyn even started a rooftop garden program after attending the farm camp for multiple years.
“Just because these kids live in an urban setting doesn’t mean they can’t put this type of knowledge to use,” Hart said. “It is so great to see kids doing this; they take this experience with them for their whole lives.”
FARM Institute engagement site manager Lindsay Brown said all of the food put out to eat, including the eggs and cheese in the frittata and the meat in the sausage, is all harvested and prepared right on the farm.
“This allows people to really enjoy some of the fruits of their labor, because they get to take part in the process and see it all unfold into a great meal,” Brown said.
Brown explained how after people eat in the class, they discuss the process the food underwent to arrive at their plates.
There are lots of great options offered by the Wednesday workshops, including strawberry jam making, Katama kombucha, herbal brewing, and bokashi composting. All these classes will be offered throughout the summer.
A sister program of the teaching kitchen, Pasture to Plate, is a cooking series with Chef Meave McAuliffe. McAuliffe breaks down the process food takes step by step, then leads the class in creating an amazing meal with local ingredients.
Classes are available on Monday, from 5:30 to 7 pm, throughout the months of July and August.