On August 2, 2017, high school educators from Colorado and beyond gathered on a small organic farm to learn about the importance of sustainable agriculture. The two-day workshop was hosted by the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, a farm-to-table focused culinary school located in Boulder, CO with strong ties to the local agricultural community. From cows and corn to pigs and parsley, attendees were given the full farm experience, complete with a complimentary brunch, farm tour, sauce-making demonstration and hands-on cooking segment. The idyllic weather and picture-perfect setting was the ideal backdrop for a day spent learning about all the glories Mother Nature has to offer.
The workshop site, Jacob Springs Farm, is owned and operated by Andrew Houssney, a longtime supporter and educator on the positive effects of organic agriculture. Houssney and his wife bought the farm, located within the city limits of Boulder, CO, with the intention to supply themselves and locals with a wide array of organic fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy.
Since its inception, the farm has become a foundation for patrons to purchase locally-farmed fresh goods that come from a cost-effective and trustworthy source. For Houssney, the farm is more a means to live his passion for organic farming every day while feeding his family almost solely on the fruits of their land as well as educating others on the environmental importance of natural agriculture.
The farm is run by Houssney, his family and volunteers both locally and nationally. For the owner, the volunteers are the most important part of the operations and the farm would not be able to flourish without it. Some of the farm hands are even able to live on the property as demonstrated by a tiny house and other humble living quarters scattered around the property. It’s an opportunity that’s common among many small organic farms that rely largely on volunteer help. Houssney offers complimentary accommodations in exchange for their participation in the daily operations, a deal proven fruitful and enticing for many by the revolving crop of live-in volunteers. By the end of the tour, many of the local high school educators were inspired by the farm’s efforts and inquired about also donating their time and energy to Jacob Springs.
After hours spent learning the ins and outs of Jacob Springs Farm, the workshop participants were able to relax in the shade as they prepared for their turn to put their cooking skills to the test and assemble dishes using some ingredients from the farm. The group was broken into three teams, tasked with creating dishes like a classic nicoise salad featuring garlic, onion and green beans from Jacob Springs; a fresh beet “carpaccio” that was as colorful and vibrant in taste as it was in presentation; as well as a grilled melon composition featuring some of the season’s best produce.
Following a short sauce presentation provided by Escoffier Schools instructor Chef Chuck Stober, participants were able to fully enjoy the day’s labors in a family-style dinner featuring the dishes made by the teachers as well as some other contributed by students at the culinary school.
When reflecting on the day, Loveland High School teacher Samantha Morris, said she was happy to bring what she learned at the farm to her classroom.
“I teach culinary nutrition classes and farm-to-table is part of my curriculum,” Morris said. “There were so many things I learned today being at the farm and seeing how it all works. I would love to bring kids here on a field trip. I think it would be an awesome experience for them as well.”