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Getting Schooled by Cheese

Student taking care of Tarentaise at Spring Brook

Artisanal cheesemaking provides a lot of lessons that are applicable in the classroom: history, foreign language, microbiology, and business skills, to name just a few. Some schools and organizations are recognizing that learning about cheesemaking can be an educational and delicious experience.

At the end of this school year, students in upper-level French classes at a Massachusetts high school took a trip to two different cheese shops just outside of Boston. At Capone Foods, students got the chance to make mozzarella and ricotta, allowing the process they learned about in the classroom come to life. According to their teacher’s account of the experience,

This was a moment of conversion for a few students who had previously declared their indifference for cheese. From that moment on, their appetite for cheese was awakened and their curiosity piqued.

Ihsan Gurdal, owner of Formaggio Kitchen, also showed the class the humidity-controlled cave underneath his store, which he built in order to simulate the European cellars often used for aging cheese. The students left this trip with a greater appreciation for the culture of cheesemaking, and an appetite for exploration on their own.

Farms for City Kids, a program at Spring Brook Farms in Reading, Vermont, uses a “thousand-acre classroom” and firsthand farming experience to teach children from urban areas valuable skills and the importance of academics. The farm setting encourages teamwork and respect, while also building self-confidence in the students who can be proud of the tangible results of their hard work. 

A typical day at Spring Brook Farm for a student might start with an early wake-up call at 6:30 AM, followed by chores in the dairy barn or the cheese house, such as taking care of the Tarentaise, a favorite here at culture (and the centerfold in our Autumn 2013 issue!) There is also time devoted to learning in the classroom and the opportunity to prepare meals and make maple syrup. 

These opportunities to get out of the classroom and see the cheesemaking process are valuable to students and cheese consumers of all ages. Even if you are not a student anymore, you can learn a lot by simply asking your local cheesemonger!

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Farms for City Kids

 

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