Students go hands-on in the kitchen

High school students participating in a Farm to Fork event also toured greenhouses and visited a grocery store

Cool and awesome were how students described their recent experience at the Local Kitchen in Saskatoon.

“Getting to work hands-on and learn how to make some of this stuff and talking to my other peers here” was the best part of the day, said Abigail Graham, who is in Grade 12 at Loreburn Central School.

Graham and 15 other high school students from across the province took part in a Farm to Fork event in Saskatoon March 7.

The Sun West Distance Learning Centre organized the event and teamed up with Saskatchewan Egg Producers, SaskCanola and the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association to celebrate Canadian Ag Literacy Month.

The students, learning centre teachers and industry representatives toured various agricultural-related operations around the city: horticulture and agriculture greenhouses at the University of Saskatchewan and Sobey’s — where they played grocery-shopping games — before heading to the Local Kitchen.

From there, Chef Scott Dicks instructed and orchestrated various food preparation activities for the students at the educational cooking centre.

After a lesson in washing their hands, students were paired off to whip up a batch of buttermilk pancakes, deep fry kale sprinkled with kosher salt, boil Saskatchewan-grown red lentils, poach fresh, local eggs and blend frozen fruit smoothies.

The menu also included locally grown beef that Dicks had braised and barbecued beforehand.

“Our hope was to create an opportunity to bring students together who had an interest in agriculture and in food, and also to bring those people with the industry and with the farmers who produce that food,” said Lori Gasper, agriculture co-ordinator for Sun West.

“My expectations have been surpassed at every curve. The kids were interested. They asked so many questions, they were engaged, and our chef managed those 16- and 17-year-olds so that they were all busy and hands-on in the kitchen.”

This was Anthony Eliason’s first time volunteering at an educational event.

The grain farmer from Outlook said he was kept busy fielding questions from the inquisitive group.

“I was involved today to help showcase some of the crops that I grow and help teach the next generation kind of what we do, how we do it and hopefully they’ll get a better understanding of where food comes from,” he said.

“Cooking in the kitchen was the best (part of the day) because they got to see how things went together and learn some skills.”

Dicks said events like this one help encourage people to cook more at home and get them to buy local as much as possible.

Isaiah Shurmer said he’s a scrambled eggs kind of guy, but the Grade 10 student from Centennial Collegiate in Saskatoon was put in charge of poaching about 40 eggs.

“I wanted to learn about how crops are grown and produced at the farms. I was really interested to hear about the GMOs and stuff at the greenhouse and see all the foods,” he said.

Helping Shurmer poach eggs was Davidson Grade 11 student Hannah Gust, who was surprised at the lack of knowledge from her fellow students about GM foods.

“I’ve grown up on a farm all my life, so I’ve been exposed to it quite well. It’s important because it’s a part of our everyday eating almost,” she said.

She has her sights on a career in agriculture and found the day’s activities informative and helpful.

“It was a good experience if you want to learn more about agriculture in Saskatchewan or Canada,” she said.

Graham remains unsure if she will pursue an agricultural livelihood but was a step closer to deciding after the event.

“Today, it definitely showed all the different opportunities. Agriculture is so much more than driving a tractor or a combine. It’s totally diverse,” she said.

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