Tag Archives: farm to table

Future Chefs Learn Good Cheese Starts with the Cows

This week, a group of 13 aspiring chefs from Oregon Culinary Institute took a closer look at where cheese comes from by taking a field trip to the source. They visited TMK Farm and Creamery, a 20 cow dairy and boutique creamery located in Canby, Oregon.

“We support the farm to table movement by providing chefs and culinary students with the opportunity to visit a dairy farm,” said Anne Goetze, Sr. Director of Nutrition Affairs for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “It was a perfect match, and they learned firsthand about all of the factors that go into producing high quality milk and dairy foods, including care for animals, land, water and air.”

Between milking cows and making cheese, it was truly an opportunity for hands-on learning. TMK Creamery hosted a cheese making class where students were able to join in the entire process of making queso fresco cheese. Queso fresco, which translates as “fresh cheese,” is the most widely used cheese in Mexican cooking.

From cutting the curds, draining the whey and actually milking the cow, all the steps were included. Education is the goal for TMK. They want students, especially in the culinary world to understand not only the process, but also the passion behind their artisan cheese.

“It all starts with a quality milk,” says Bert Garza, who makes the cheese alongside his wife Shauna, “and to get quality milk, you need to be caring for your animals.”

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RELATED LINKS:

TMK Farms and Creamery

Oregon Culinary Institute

Adopt a Farmer Program Includes Oregon Dairies

Each year, Oregon dairy farmers participate in a program called Adopt a Farmer through Oregon Aglink to help promote agriculture through educating middle school students. Five Oregon dairy farm families are currently participating in this year’s program giving students the opportunity to experience a dairy farm firsthand.

The five dairies include:

  • Harrold’s Dairy in Creswell
  • Cloud Cap Farms in Boring
  • Mayfield Dairy in Aurora
  • Veeman’s Dairy in St. Paul
  • Willamette Valley Cheese in Salem

In addition to offering tours of their farms, these dairy farmers visit their adoptive classroom two to three times throughout the school year to engage students in the science behind farming. They participate in activities related to soil, water, conservation, irrigation, genetics, the farm-to-table continuum and economics.

Learn more about one of Oregon’s dairy farmers, Melissa Collman of Cloud Cap Farms and her participation in the program.

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RELATED LINKS:

Adopt a Farmer

Dairy Meets Classroom: Melissa Collman of Cloud Cap Farms

Cloud Cap Dairy, Boring, OR

Cloud Cap Dairy on Facebook

Cloud Cap Dairy on Twitter

Cloud Cap Dairy on Instagram

What I Learned on My First Visit to a Dairy Farm

by Lindsay LeBrun, Graduate Student in Clinical Nutrition, Oregon Health & Science University

Lindsay LeBrunAs a nutrition intern for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, I recently had the opportunity to visit a dairy farm outside of Salem, Oregon, during my second week on the job. Since I didn’t grow up on a farm or have a background in dairy, this tour was an opportunity for me to learn about dairy production practices. I was also eager to learn what kinds of questions kids and parents had about milk and dairy.

After the hour-long car ride down I-5 from Portland, I made my final turn into a gravel parking lot and instantly knew I had found the right place. The excited yelps of fourth graders posing for a class picture made me turn my head as I stepped from my car. With cheesy grins they assembled in front of the wooden sign proudly proclaiming our location: “Rickreall Dairy.”

Cows eatingThis class is one of many that get a firsthand look at where their favorite dairy foods come from. At Rickreall Dairy, tour leader Stacy Foster conducts more than a dozen tours of the farm during the spring. The success of the program has allowed her to now expand to offering tours in the fall, and I was joining for the last tour of the season.

Foster, whose father owns the farm, began by acknowledging that she wouldn’t have hurt feelings if the kids (or parents) plug their noses. She admits it’s stinky, but that is to be expected when over 3,500 cows call this place home. Foster then asks the group if they know what milk is good for. Almost every hand goes up, and the chosen student announces, “bones.” “That’s right,” says Foster. “Milk has calcium and vitamin D for strong bones.”

Foster then leads us straight to the where the action happens: the milking parlor. This room operates 24 hours a day to ensure each cow gets two or three daily milking sessions. Foster tells us that each cow produces roughly 10 gallons every day, and overall the dairy produces 16,500 gallons daily! “Can you guys drink all of that milk?” she asks. A few cheeky responders reply with a “yes.” Foster laughs and says, “Well, you could probably eat all of that ice cream!”

We move on to the maternity barn where the sounds of the milking machines can no longer be heard. The children are excited to see two newborn calves beginning to take their first wobbly steps. This gives Foster the chance to explain the life cycle of a cow on the farm. The kids are surprised to hear that cows don’t just grow up and give milk – like humans, they have to have a baby first. As the kids peer over the enclosures to get a closer look, parents begin raising questions for Foster. “Is organic better than conventional milk?” “Can you taste a difference between different brands?” Foster points out that all milk sold in stores is held to the same standards for safety and quality. In fact, there are 27 regulatory agencies that Rickreall Dairy works with to be in compliance.

Calf milk bottlesWe end our tour by moving into the barn that houses the calves. “Who wants to bottle feed a calf?” asks Foster. She is met with an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from kids and parents alike. The children each grab a bottle and file down the row of calves, who eagerly stick their head out in anticipation of the meal. The children giggle as the calves gobble all of it down, and the bottles are drained within minutes.

For most of these kids, and for me, this is the first time they have seen a dairy farm firsthand. The tours at Rickreall Dairy are a unique opportunity to help kids connect the farm to table concept. Their faces light up when presented with the idea that the cows they met today could be the same ones that made the milk in their fridge. For parents, they enjoy having questions resolved to help them make good choices in what they feed their children. As for myself, I loved gaining insight into food system production and hearing about what the consumers wanted to know. A huge thank you to Rickreall Dairy and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council for making this experience possible!

Honoring the Harvest: From Dairy Farm to Table

At Honor the Harvest, a summit sponsored by the National Dairy Council in June, more than 200 professionals from the culinary, nutrition, health and wellness, and agricultural communities gathered to immerse themselves in the science and insights about dairy’s role from farm to table.

Representing Oregon at this national summit was Anne Goetze, our Senior Director of Nutrition Affairs, Oregon Health and Science University’s Sonja Connor and Oregon Department of Education’s Farm to School Specialist, Rick Sherman.

 

“Our Oregon guests are leaders locally and nationally. They were intrigued to hear dairy’s sustainability story,” said Anne.

From a packed day of educational sessions and application to a tour of the agricultural experience at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, participants learned about dairy’s key role as part of sustainable food systems.

“Honoring the harvest is about using the food for its highest purpose and moving nutrients through the food system – from people, to animals, and back to the land to grow more food – instead of going to waste in a landfill,” said Anne. “By working together we can preserve precious resources and feed a growing population.”