Today our Youth Farm Interns completed the first Kitchen Workshop in a series of two with Erin Belmont. She is a fermentologist, owner of House of Ferments, and runs her small business out of the commercial kitchen at the MT Poultry Growers Cooperative, located at Homestead Organics Farm. Erin started House of Ferments in 2016 and is dedicated to the art of fermentation, producing krauts, kimchi, and kombucha. Many of the interns had never been in a commercial kitchen before, so after Erin gave us a tour and safety talk they were ready to take on their first project: prepping and chopping carrots and zucchini grown on the farm for our first delivery to Meals On Wheels.
A pillar of the Youth Farm Internship is to grow food for Meals On Wheels, a program of the Ravalli County Council on Aging that serves daily meals to elderly and disabled adults living in the Bitterroot Valley. Learning from the outcomes of the internship last year, we discovered that due to the high volume of meals being made in the Meals On Wheels kitchens every week, sometimes it was difficult to use all of the produce they received from the farm. There just weren't enough hours in the day to chop, dice, and shred it all. In order to make the produce more user friendly this year, Ravalli County Council On Aging helped Cultivating Connections apply for a grant through the Rapp Family Foundation and secured funding to purchase a commercial grade Robot Coupe food chopper. This high tech chopper takes hours of hand chopping work down to mere minutes!
Erin has generously volunteered to help lead the interns in their weekly chopping duties, and therefore had to learn how to use the chopper herself in order to teach the group. After explaining how the chopper works, the different blades, attachments, cut styles, and safety features, Erin led the interns in prepping and chopping carrots and zucchini in a variety of shapes and sizes. The processed produce will be taken to the Meals On Wheels kitchen tomorrow where they can decide which styles will best suite their needs. The girls all had a chance to run the chopper and ended the workshop feeling confident in their newly learned culinary skills.