4-H Summer Fun Farm-to-Fork
Over the past few years, more and more people are becoming interested in where their food comes from and how to produce it. Their children are no exception. As part of the 4-H Summer Fun curricula, the Montgomery County Agriculture Agents offered a two-day Farm-To-Fork workshop focused on local food in Montgomery County: crops that can be grown, where they can be found, how to harvest it and how to prepare it into a delicious meal, healthy meal.
On June 10, the class traveled to God’s Garden in Norman, NC to visit Mr. David Clark. Here, the group learned about the different types of soils in Montgomery County and what could grow in each. God’s Garden grows watermelons, green beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, corn and sweet potatoes. David explained that their farm’s purpose is to help people who need fresh, nutritious food but cannot afford it. Last year, God’s Garden gave local Food Banks and Pantries over 76,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. Horticulture Agent, Brad Thompson taught the class the three-step method for checking watermelon ripeness in the field. After identifying several ripe melons, the group harvested them and got to taste several varieties on the spot. Before leaving the garden, the group got a great surprise when Mr. Clark did a green bean picking demonstration with his green bean harvester and sent the participants home with a bag of green beans to split.
After boarding the vans, the group headed to Candor, home of Johnson’s Peaches which has produced quality peaches for three generations. All participants enjoyed a scoop of homemade ice cream before looking around at all the produce and goodies available at the stand. While at the stand, the group did some shopping and purchased some of the local produce in order to make their locally sourced meal with the next day. Back at the Extension Office, each participant got to decorate their very own chef’s hat and apron so that they would be dry and ready to wear for the next day’s cooking competition.
Day two of the program began with the class dividing up into two teams for a friendly game of Extension Family Food. By playing the game, the participants learned to identify various retail cuts of meat, fresh vegetables and fruits, kitchen equipment and chef terminology. All of this was a great warm up for “Extension Kitchen” where the participants were put into four separate teams and charged with preparing one of the dishes to be served for lunch: Cheesy Beef and Corn Quesadillas, Fresh Tomato Salsa with Tortilla Chips, Black Bean and Lentil Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette and Homemade Key Lime Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream for dessert.
Around lunchtime, our competition judges joined us and were presented their plates. After giving the judges their food, each team had a representative that explained what their particular team had prepared, the ingredients that were in each dish and how they used their “surprise ingredient” (one that they had to swap for another ingredient in their recipe). The group got to enjoy the dishes that each other made while the judges decided on their favorites.
Awards were presented and our winners were:
- Culinary Expert Award (Golden Whisk) – Team Quesadilla
- Best Seasoned Award (Golden Salt Shaker) – Team Salsa
- Recipe Master Award (Golden Measuring Cup) – Team Salad
- Best Overall Dish Award (Golden Plate) – Team Pie
For more information about local food, farm-to-fork or 4-H Youth Programming, please contact the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Office at 910-576-6011.