Crop and dairy production, animal husbandry, aquaculture, and more were on tap for six undergraduate students from the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts, who visited farms owned and operated by Southern Illinois University’s College of Agricultural Sciences in Carbondale (SIUC) for a week in late September. The immersion in food harvesting and processing was the fourth annual collaboration between Kendall and SIUC.
Kendall students were exposed to the latest developments in vermiculture (worm composting), viticulture and wine tasting, and other disciplines. SIU’s professors specializing in these studies hosted the visit on the 2,000-acre, on-campus farms. Visits to neighboring farms enabled students to forage for mushrooms for a special dinner, pick chiles, and immerse themselves in organic growing and harvesting of specialty vegetables.
“The field trip was an experience that I would never have expected,” says chef-instructor Paul Tinaglia, who led students on the SIUC tour. “We milked cows, harvested sweet potatoes, picked pumpkins, and discovered how easy it is to mistake a poisonous mushroom for a safe one. I was amazed with the vermiculture operation—composting food scraps and using worms to purify the new soil. I recommend that any culinary-arts student take advantage of this tour to learn about farm-to-table operations.”
Toward the end of their weeklong tour, Kendall students prepared an al fresco dinner featuring local farm and agriculture-school products for approximately 100 guests from the greater Carbondale community.
“Everyone who eats should know where their food comes from, and being in the food industry makes it even more important,” wrote a participating Kendall student who chronicled her experience. “The SIU trip was very informative about how local food is produced. We met so many dedicated farmers who pour their hearts and souls into everything they grow, and their passion made us want to showcase the fantastic ingredients that they provided us.”
Plans are already under way for next September’s tour to SIUC with a fresh group of Kendall College culinary-arts students, Tinaglia says. For more information on the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, visit www.coas.siu.edu.