by Justin Dolezal
Spring Brook Farm, located in tiny Reading, Vermont, would be worthy of a blog post singing their praises if all they did was make cheese. Spring Brook produces two Mission Cheese favorites: Tarentaise, an Alpine-style cheese with a wonderfully complex, terroir-driven flavor, and Reading, a pungent stinker that lends a flavorful punch to both our raclette and mac and cheese (if you're confused: the term “raclette” refers to a style of cheese, a potato-based dish, and a melting device).
These cheeses are both seriously award-winning , with a reserve version of Tarentaise taking home the title of Best Cheese in America in 2014. Spring Brook has given the world much more than cheese, however, and their involvement with the Farms for City Kids Organization is the reason we're highlighting them today.
Since 1992, the Farms for City Kids program has provided inner-city elementary school children with the opportunity to spend time learning and working on Spring Brook Farm. This experience includes participating in the daily activities of a working farm first hand, as children learn how to care for animals, grow produce, and maintain farm operations. The farming experiences are combined with traditional academics to provide students with an integrated educational experience.
Part after-school program and part summer camp, students are encouraged to develop teamwork and leadership skills, as well as a sense of self-reliance and independence. Additionally, time spent engaging in sustainable, ecologically responsible farming practices provides students with a unique learning environment, challenging attitudes and perceptions that are difficult to shake within city life.
Obviously, a hands-on, non-traditional learning environment provides these students with a scholastic experience beyond what they might experience in the classroom. But equally important is the time these children spend interacting with their food. We at Mission Cheese are firm believers that understanding who provides your food, as well as where it comes from, can lead to a healthier, more fulfilling (and tastier!) lifestyle. Encouraging young children to appreciate all that goes in to food, whether by cooking, gardening, or encouraging them to work on a farm, creates conscious, food-educated adults. That's a mission that we at Mission Cheese are happy to support.