This past week, we had the privilege of hosting a group of Italian students for the day to take a tour of the farm. These students attend the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. This university works with the Eco-gastronomy program at the University of New Hampshire to allow the students in both of these programs to study for a semester at the university in the other country. This group of Italian students had been in the United States for 12 weeks, and we were the last farm that they were visiting during their time here.
The students arrived by bus at the farm, having traveled the four hours from the University of New Hampshire that morning. We took them on a quick walking tour of the Homestead Farm by hiking up to the “Outlook,” where we could look out on the Valley and Pumpkin Seed Hill locations. After hiking down to the farmyard again, the students were able to listen to Keith, the marketing director, explain some important facts and details about marketing a farm business. We then drove to the Pumpkin Seed Hill location, where the students were able to get a tractor ride down to the vineyard. Jamie Jones told the students about his vineyards, and compared some things with their knowledge of Italian vineyards.
To end the students’ visit to the Jones Family Farms, we took them to Stepney Kitchen in Monroe for lunch. This restaurant uses local ingredients in its dishes. Chef Jason does an amazing job with the cooking and presentation of each item. We provide some of the local produce for his dishes, and for this meal, Allyson had arranged with Chef Jason to create a special meal just for us using Jones Farm produce. The meal consisted of four courses. The first was Stone Gardens Yellow Corn Soup, using corn from Stone Garden Farms which grows all of our corn for us. The second course was Roasted Heirloom Squash and Seasoned Ricotta, with Sunflower Garnish. The third course was Roast Chicken with Jones Green Beans in Tomato with New Potato Gnocchi. Dessert was Blueberry Poppy Seed Cake with Creme Fraiche. The students really enjoyed this meal, and some commented that it was the best meal that they had eaten during their whole time in the United States. Stepney Kitchen is a truly unique restaurant seeking to support local foods.
After lunch, the students needed to board their bus again to head off to their next stop at Yale University. It was a great experience to have these students visit the farm, and to hear the similarities and differences in local foods and agriculture between our two countries.
One other thing that made this visit exciting for me is that the University of New Hampshire is the university that I graduated from. So it was neat to be able to host this group from the Ecogastronomy program there. Ecogastronomy is a unique combination of the studies of sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition and food. To find out more about the University of New Hampshire’s Ecogastronomy program, go to their website: http://www.unh.edu/ecogastronomy/.