The Cabot School: A leader in Farm-to-School
Brock Miller-- himself a Cabot School alumnus-- started as school Food Service Director in 2017. Since then, he has transformed the way the Cabot School cafeteria sources, cooks, and serves food, and he has also become a model for the whole supervisory union. As a school food service director, Brock has a strong understanding of the intricacies of food purchasing challenges, and is able to leverage that knowledge when brainstorming with the supervisory union about how different cafeterias might band together to place bulk orders from local farms. In an effort to incorporate more local and seasonal ingredients into Cabot School meals, Brock has developed purchasing plans with area farmers. Beyond local food procurement, Brock also engages with Harvest of the Month through sending educational materials home to families, and conducting taste tests where he serves students a recipe that highlights a local and seasonal ingredient. While the school does not have a formal system for collecting student input on recipes, Brock sits down with his students at the lunch table and asks them for their opinions on what he’s made. No surprise here-- the feedback is positive. Brock’s background as a professional chef and his passion for local food procurement shine through in the nutritious and delicious food he makes for his students.
Peter Stratman has been at Cabot for 18 years. He loves the school’s project-based learning approach and the amount of freedom he’s been granted to take fun, educational ideas and run with them. One example of this can be found right outside his classroom (see picture). Between buildings is a wide open space bordered by garden beds, a bread oven, and a season-extending structure. In the spring of 2020, Peter’s middle school students designed this multi-purpose structure with the intention of using it as a food prep area, outdoor classroom, and greenhouse. Students worked with a local builder to erect the building in the fall of 2021, and have since been excited to harvest crops from the nearby garden beds, prep ingredients in their new space, and use the bread oven for a pizza party-- a practically monthly event before the pandemic. Peter said, “It’s about creating experiences that kids will remember, that they’re connected to, and they're empowered to participate in, and then they get to have good pizza-- something as simple as that.” As an educator, Peter appreciates the “plug and play” nature of VTHOM materials, and the way they make it easy for teachers to engage in FTS programming. One way he’s employed VTHOM materials in his classroom is through a project where he had his 7th-8th grade students create cookbooks featuring VTHOM crops and recipes. This project gave students an opportunity to practice skills in literacy, cooking, and research as they looked up nutritional benefits of each crop they featured in their book. Peter notes that “if kids have a relationship with food-- knowing how to plant, harvest, and eat good food, it will potentially change their lives.”
The Cabot Farm-to-School team kicked off a Community Harvest Supper series in 2019, where over 200 community members enjoyed a meal prepared by students, featuring almost entirely local ingredients. Students decorated the cafeteria, presented about their farm-to-school program, and performed musical numbers for those at the event.
The pandemic has meant a pause for this seasonal event, but the whole school is looking forward to starting back up again once safety allows.