I farm three acres of small vegetables and a 1000 ft2 rooftop herb garden for Hendrick House. I started this farm five years ago. We are not organically certified but practice organic methods. We plant native pollinator flowers and plants at our farm. We have living path spaces with are mowed.
I intend to provide farm to table education to foodservice providers, youth, farmers and the local community to encourage moving away from prepackaged, pre-processed, unhealthy food that institutionalized kitchens often provide while also creating awareness of the importance of supporting local farms in the community.
There are four population sectors I am targeting to implement the proposed educational project. The first sector is youth in the community. I plan to hold three one-hour workshops to demonstrate farming in the stages of planting, harvesting and consuming. My goal is to show youths where their food is grown and the difference in quality between food off the farm and processed food. I will work with University of Illinois Extension leading youth workshops and educating children on the importance of farm fresh food.
The second sector will be food service workers. I intend to assemble a workbook to be used as a field guide to educate them in health benefits and proper storage and also provide them with recipes to build on when transitioning to farm fresh cooking during four workshops that are three hours long, twice a year. During these workshops we will be writing menus for upcoming semesters with the hope that chefs will order more local food and we will discuss reducing food waste using more in-house processing methods.
The third sector I will be targeting is farmers. I intend to work with The Land Connection in educational workshops for local farmers from a “chef’s point of view.” I will also be reaching farmers through presentations at state wide conferences with the intent to increase business for local farms by sharing my knowledge on how to interact with chefs, packaging and receiving and what chefs look for regarding quality and reliability.
The fourth sector I plan to target is the general public. I will be publishing articles in the New Illinois Farmers listserv, Illinois Fruit and Vegetable newsletter and The Land Connection Newsletter. I will also educate the community through social media, websites and weekly blog posts to increase the use and purchase of locally-produced food.
***Please refer to Education and Outreach section since the grant received focuses on education.***
Educational & Outreach Activities
Active social media accounts updated weekly (Hendrick House Food Service Facebook page and blog: hhfood.wordpress.com).
I produced a workbook given to 25 head cooks that assisted in the education of foodservice workers within the company. The workbook has pictures of produce coming directly from Hendrick House farm so the cooks are able to identify size and color of produce they will be receiving. It also provides proper storage information, facts about the variety of vegetable and recipe ideas on how to prepare them. This workbook has been shared with SARE and The Land Connection to be used as an educational guide.
I hosted two series of four workshops that each head cook was required to attend, making a total of 25 attendees twice a year. The first set of workshops focused on the workbook information, menu development and recipe ideas on how to cook with seasonal produce. The second set of workshops focused on advanced education regarding seasonal cooking, pros and cons of 2017 growing season and standing orders and ideas for 2018. I want foodservice workers to actively participate in what is grown on the farm so they will be vested in the local food movement.
I compared foodservice worker’s Hendrick House Farm orders from 2016 to 2017 to gauge the retention level of information given during these workshops. Overall the numbers presented below have a lot of variance due to underproduction at certain points in the farm season due to a heavy drought year. The foodservice workers were excited to be participating in standing orders which reduced the amount of times they would have to communicate orders with me via email. These standing orders were set up at the beginning of the semester with face to face meetings. This seemed the most favorable ordering system by the cooks. Below is a picture of the set up for standing orders for fall 2017 and also the outline for the second series of chef workshops I held.
The two excel sheets below are the tracking of Hendrick House Farm purchases from 2016 to 2017 with the cooks at all of the production kitchen locations (all of my clients that work in seasonal kitchens).
The excel sheet below is the tracking of Hendrick House dorm’s (open year round) local farm purchases (minus Hendrick House Farm because those stats are shown above).
You can see by the above chart that our year round kitchen increased local food sales to other farms in the area by 60% from 2016. Other farms are able to fill demands by selling to large scale food service producers. As the education of the importance of local food and supporting local farms increases, I expect that number to continue to increase from year to year.
I hosted a group of 20 high school teachers from Central Illinois. I spoke on the importance of fresh produce in schools, educating them on our farm practices and how Hendrick House is using the fresh produce from the farm.
I hosted a series of three workshops over the summer with a group called DREAAM HOUSE. DREAAM House is a school to college pipeline program to reach, teach and invest in boys and young men placed at risk with a targeted focus on African American males. There were 20 boys in each workshop and the workshops were held on June 27, July 11 and August 11 of 2017. Each of these workshops consisted of two parts; the farm and the kitchen. After the students spent the first half of the day at the farm they then moved to the kitchen to learn how to prepare what they identified and harvested. They also learned food safety and sanitation (e.g. proper hand washing). They each received a laminated recipe card to take home so they could recreate the recipe.
The first workshop was an introduction to the farm/ identification of farm produce.
The above picture is a vegetable identification sheet that concentrated on vegetables that grow above and below ground, which we covered in the first workshop. The farm was color coded into sections and each group of students had to identify the vegetable and circle which section they found it in. Each student planted a green bean seed at the farm and staked their name next to it. We were hoping that they would be able to see the progress of their plant during the next two workshops. Unfortunately due to drought and small animal problem, a lot of the seeds didn’t make it.
The second workshop was rained out so we moved it into Hendrick House and did an herb identification/ taste workshop using herbs from the rooftop garden. We intended to do a “Farm Detective” workshop where the students would walk around the farm identifying each item on the sheet and circling if it is beneficial or harmful to the produce.
The last workshop we had the children participate in a scavenger hunt building on what they had learned in the previous workshops with crop identification. Each group of students would have to identify the vegetable from the picture and pull their flag that corresponded to their assigned shape at the top of the page. When all the flags were pulled with their shape and all of the vegetable pictures were identified then the students would receive a vegetable shaped squishy prize.
I am saving the workshop surveys that were taken after each workshop from 2017 and will compare the results with the post workshop surveys from DREAAM House in 2018.
There were six press articles that were published in 2017. The first was a local newspaper, News Gazette, article featuring SARE and this grant. It was published 5/2/2017 and went out to 25,000 people.
I submitted two articles that were published in the The Land Connection’s Newsletter on 9/29/2017 and 11/21/2017.
There was an article on SARE and New Farmers Listserv on 10/5/2017
Each of the above publications, with the exception of The News Gazette, reached over 10,000 people.
Morning AG Clips featured an article 11/6/2017 reaching millions of farmers and educators.
Midwest Living published an article regarding my Forest to Mansion Dinner, educating the community on locally foraged cuisine, reaching 962,759 readers. It was published September/ October 2017.
I gave four farm tours, excluding the DREAAM House youth workshop, in 2017. Each group consisted of the foodservice workers that make up the company. There were 25 people in total.
I hosted a teacher workshop 9/26/2017. The group consisted of 22 Unit 4 middle school and high school teachers. They listened to a powerpoint (included at the beginning of this section) followed by lunch at Hendrick House made with produce from Hendrick House farm.
I worked with The Land Connection and presented a chef demonstration with seasonal local vegetables at the 11/7/2017 Champaign Farmer’s Market.
The workshop/ field days were part of the youth workshops I held for the DREAAAM House. The information regarding that is at the beginning of this section.
I organized and was a featured chef at Allerton’s Forest to Mansion dinner. This is an annual event open to the public where the menu is based on local food foraged in the area. The dinner was held for 100 people and was featured in Smiley Politely, News Gazette and Midwest Living Magazine.
I participated as a chef for the Stewardship Alliance annual fundraiser, Harvest Celebration, in 2017, using locally sourced food. There were 100 people from the community attending.