Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Overlook Farm--Global Villages

This year, we've made the move from public education for our kids to private.  It was a difficult choice, made for a myriad of reasons, and was only possible because of the existence of Hiland Hall School, right in our own town.  It's a "progressive" school, which basically means it's way cool. The curriculum is based on the students' interest, and a lot of what we've seen so far really adheres to many of the beliefs my husband and I try to live by.  One of the cool things the kids have learned about already is Heifer International.  I had always wanted to take a trip to their learning center in central Massachusetts with my own students, so when I found out HH was going, I basically insisted that I be able to come along!

Overlook Farm is one of five learning centers located around the U.S. that serve to educate visitors about poverty and hunger around the world by recreating global villages on its land.  Overlook Farm is in Rutland, Mass, about an hour from Boston.  It's open to the public, and you can visit without a formal group tour.  The kids watched a movie featuring Heifer's work around the globe, and then traveled through different areas of the farm that represented parts of the world--Thailand, Guatemala, Kenya, Peru, Tibet, the US/Mexican borderlands, and Appalachia. At each place, the guide discussed issues effecting the region, and spoke about Heifer's work in the area.

Lunch was the most interactive part of the visit, which is why I'm highlighting the trip on this blog!  Our group lunched in the Andes of Peru, which meant that the kids prepared a meal representative of the culture and their local crops.  They built a fire, grabbed the veggies out of the nearby garden, and cooked stew while llamas and alpacas oversaw the whole operation.

Carrot Tops in the Garden
Amaranth (purple); Quinoa (green)
The Peru abode (right); the Peruvian garden
Lunch was Quinoa stew.  The ingredients were simple:  water, garlic, green onions, carrots, purple potatoes, mote and quinoa!  Holly, our guide, explained to the kids what staple crops are, and even how some people eat the same meal every day three times a day!  The most shocking bit of lunch discussion was that in Peru, guinea pigs are not pets, but perfect single serving meals.  She pointed out that in some cultures, one would not eat cows or pigs the way we do here!
Lunch companion!

Quinoa is an interesting grain. It's iron rich, and gluten free. I've never really been gaga over it, but I do enjoy it from time to time, and this dish was really tasty.  A Vegan blog I read has a nice a quinoa salad recipe! For some other ways to cook quinoa check out this set of recipes! 
The white pieces are MOTE.

Another interesting ingredient in the stew was mote.  It's a corn that's been boiled and puffed up, and cured with lime powder.  I guess it's similar to hominy.  It had such a lovely flavor, corn tasting but mellow!
Owen got to serve the stew!
I was so impressed with the thoughtful responses the kids all gave to the guide's questions. They were delighted to be eating lunch in Peru and be able to see Thailand and Guatemala from where we sat.

A plaque said "From Overlook Farm, you can see a better world."The kids of Hiland Hall are sure to make it so!

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