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A Farm to Table Field Trip
A Farm to Table Field Trip

The English Elective, Food For Thought: Food, Culture, and Writing, went on a full day "farm to table" field trip in early October. The goal of the trip was to learn about the local food system and how our food is raised and harvested. To this end, the class visited three farms of very different sizes and types: Lima Family Farm, North Slope Farm and Doublebrook Farm, which is owned by PDS alumni and current parents Jon McConaughy '85 and Robin McConaughy '87. The trip concluded with a wonderful lunch at Brick Farm Market featuring some of the food they saw being raised.

This class is taught by Sustainability Coordinator and Upper School English teacher Liz Cutler. Here are her thoughts on the day:

"At Lima Family Farm, we learned about raising meat chickens and egg layers. We were out in the field with the birds and learned about the difference between being pasture-raised and all the other names such as "organic," "all-natural," or "cage-free." All these labels have different meanings meant to connect the consumer emotionally to the product but may not actually be related to the health and welfare of the animals. At Lima, the chickens are raised their entire lives on open pasture and moved around from fresh pasture to fresh pasture daily. This has a huge effect on the health of the birds, their eggs, and ultimately their meat. The day we were there was chicken harvest day so our students witnessed the entire cycle from chick to slaughter.

At North Slope Farm, we learned about the difference between industrial, organic, and regenerative farming. We were out in the vegetable fields talking with the farmer about how to grow food for a human community that is also healthy for an ecological community.

At Doublebrook farm, we visited their turkey operation and learned why they raise heritage breeds and do so in a way that is mindful of the health of the animal and the ultimate taste of the food. We also visited the pigs -- some had given birth to piglets only hours before -- and saw the entire cycle of birth to harvest when we visited their onsite slaughterhouse. It was important for the students who eat meat to learn about the entire life cycle so that they understood the implications of their food choices.

We ended with lunch at Brick Farm Market, which uses the meat and produce from Doublebrook and other local farms, in order to taste the difference in the final product."

Here are some of the thoughts that this food journey inspired from students on the trip:

"Watching the chicken harvest was eye-opening for me as I saw where our food really comes from and gained a unique appreciation for the food we typically take for granted." - Om Suchak

"By visiting three drastically different farms, the Food for Thought class learned about the logistics of responsible farming, compared various practices, and was inspired by the farmers' genuine passion for healing the environment and supporting their community." - Yishi Wang

"The more miles between where your food is grown and your plate, the more unsustainable, unhealthy and ambiguous your food becomes." - Disha Bhowmick

"Visiting the three farms today, it inspired me how each farm had the same values of community, environment, hard work, passion and animal treatment despite how different each of them were in size and their process." - Jordan Young