Cabbage in the Classroom at Newcomb Central School

For Newcomb Central School’s January Harvest of the Month feature on cabbage, Food Service Director Dave Hughes collaborated with Meghan Brooks of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County to bring cabbage into the classroom with a lesson on the production process behind sauerkraut. 

Photo of two people weighing cabbage for sauerkraut

Cabbage was procured from Juniper Hill Farm, shredded at the Hub on the Hill, and then brought into the seventh and eighth grade science classroom. Meghan’s lesson was designed to incorporate a scientific understanding into the food students were going to be eating, with the goal of increasing the likelihood that students will taste the sauerkraut when it is served in their school lunch. When talking about the sauerkraut curriculum, Meghan says, “I wanted to show the students the science behind fermentation. ‘This is what happens, this is how a simple vegetable can turn into a vegetable full of probiotic goodness that’s good for you in all these different ways,’ making it a little more tangible for students.”

Meghan’s lesson covered fermentation, how the process works, the history of the method, and what fermented products other than sauerkraut students might be seeing and eating regularly. Students then put all their new science into practice by making sauerkraut together, which was then brought back to the Hub on the Hill for monitoring during the fermentation time. Once ready, Meghan will bring the sauerkraut back to Newcomb Central School for a tasting and sensory analysis – incorporating the entire process into curriculum.

Both Meghan and Dave cite their shared enthusiasm for farm to school, existing working relationship, cooperation from teachers at Newcomb, and the resources made available by local farms and the Hub on the Hill as the main contributing factors for successfully bringing farm to school into the classroom.

Check out the New York Cabbage Guide on the FINYS Local Food Buyer Learning Center!