New culinary course will incorporate organic garden


Wilton High School’s culinary arts department will offer a new course next year called Farm to Table after the Board of Education approved the class during its June 11 meeting.
The Board of Education reviewed and discussed the course proposal, put together by culinary arts teachers Kimberly Russo and Judy Marshall, during its May 28 meeting.
“This is a course that we are very excited about,” Principal Robert O’Donnell told the board. “It would be a first-semester course and one of the exciting factors is that this would be a collaboration [with] the organic garden.”
Through the course, students will “gain an understanding of how food is grown and what conditions create the best possible ingredients and flavors,” according to the proposal.
O’Donnell said the number of students in the culinary arts program — which currently offers Culinary I and II — has “really been increasing over the last couple years,” and Farm to Table will provide “an opportunity for our students to work under the directorship of Chef Russo.

Organic garden


Farm to Table students will work collaboratively with organic garden coordinator and science teacher Jim Hunter and the Organic Gardening Club to plant and harvest crops for class use and production, according to the proposal.
“What we want to do is take the kids and actually have them almost map out what we can, what we should, and what we could do with the resources we have available,” Russo told the board.
“We’re not just handing them the ingredients like they would find in a grocery store. They’re actually going to work in the gardens with us and harvest, and then we’re going to use it.”
According to the proposal, the course “aims to guide students to live a more self-sustaining and healthy existence through food and its relationship to the environment.”
Russo said not only will the course give students an understanding of seasonal crops and harvesting, but storage and production as well.
Because of the crops currently grown in the garden, Farm to Table will only be offered in the fall.
“When we look at the crops we have currently, a lot of it is going to be summer through fall,” she said, “and I was afraid to not be able to give the same education in the spring semester.”
Although the course will not be offered in the spring, Russo said, there is enough demand to fill the other culinary levels that semester.
“What we talked about is adding another Culinary II,” she told the board.
O’Donnell said Farm to Table will replace one of the existing culinary classes offered in the fall.
“Ultimately,” he told the board, “the second semester would have Culinary I and Culinary II.”


Expenses


The total cost of the course is estimated at $1,125 — $500 for supplies, $500 for equipment and $125 for annual subscriptions of resource literature — with other costs to be determined, according to the proposal.
Since Farm to Table will be replacing an existing culinary class, there will be no instructional material expenses, but there will be professional development expenses.
Training will be obtained by attending food shows, farms and other schools with similar offerings, according to the proposal, which estimate the cost to attend a food show to be approximately $100 per show per person.
The first year’s attendance will consist of two shows:

  • The Fancy Food Show in New York City (June 28-30, 2015).

  • The Food & Nutrition Conference Expo in Nashville, Tenn. (Oct. 3-5, 2015).


According to the proposal, the cost of attending the Food & Nutrition Conference Expo will include:

  • $375 per person for round-trip airfare.

  • $250 per night for one hotel room to share.

  • $75 in miscellaneous travel expenses.