Professional Development

Rapid Results through on farm education

“I feel it is the duty for all of us who love working with the land to share the information we have gained with others. This farm school is our goal for passing on the knowledge gathered over the last 20 years on this piece of land.” – Lora Lea and Rick Misterly

The Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts (QFSDA) hosts several week-long summer immersions which “introduce professional chefs and culinary students to the source of their work: from the farm to the table.” Small groups stay on the farm in shared housing, learning and doing farm chores, and of course, preparing meals with the ingredients grown on their own and surrounding farms.

The workshop schedule includes hands-on instruction in the early stages of food preparation unfamiliar to most culinary students: milking, canning, butchering lambs and chickens, and cheese and sausage making. Presentations on heirloom plants, seed saving and the benefits of grass-fed meats are interspersed with wild food walks and garden glove tasks like composting, transplanting seedlings and building raised beds. Farm students also visit other local growers to learn about beekeeping and orchards.

Slaughtering animals may be one of the more daunting parts of the farm school agenda, and also perhaps one of the most transforming. “People have this horrible mentality of blood and gore, but that’s not what it is about. The inside of the animal is all very orderly and it’s a respectful process,” says Lora Lea. “A lot of the students leave feeling better about eating meat, and they want to find a source of meat that is grown in a respectful way.”

The Farm School takes “working with chefs” to a new level. It’s not just selling direct. It’s not just telling their story. It’s a full-scale invitation to come live with them, on their farm, be part of their lives, immerse into the intricacies of farm-life, build relationships with their peers and awaken their senses and their sensibilities to what it means to source and prepare food sustainably.

Early in 1987 the Misterly’s began selling artisan goat cheese and building relationships with chefs who care about quality. Then, they introduced them to the idea of caring about the source of their products and how producers treat their land and animals. First orally, now hands-on, the Quillisascut Farm School was born.
Now, they have developed their farm around a commitment to educating chefs about food, their connection to the environment, seasonal eating, and community. Countless chefs in this region have been there and/or purchase their artisan cheeses.