ASP’s Sustenance and Sustainability class learns about farm to restaurant connection
Members of the ASP’s Sustenance and Sustainability class had an opportunity to see what they have been learning in class put to the real-world test when they visited with owner and chef Ed Aloise at Republic, an eatery in downtown Manchester, N.H. The establishment is certified by New Hampshire’s Farm to Restaurant Connection, which promotes the importance of local food security.
The July 23 field trip, explained Master Teacher Courtney Jackson, helped the students understand why the model of managing a restaurant that serves only locally sourced products works for Aloise and his wife, Claudia.
“We have learned so much in the classroom, and this gives the students a chance to experience it firsthand,” said Jackson.
Aloise welcomed the students to his café, speaking about “cultural sustainability,” which he explained as a chain of efforts that allow a local culture to remain economically vibrant. He spoke of the 65 dozen eggs he procures from local farmers and of the small farms that provide beef, lettuce, peppers, and other ingredients to fill the Republic’s eclectic and health-conscious menu.
“This way of thinking has permeated society and people are now thinking about the best and healthiest options,” he said.
Students asked Aloise why more restaurant owners do not follow his model. He told them about the time and business acumen required to locate and barter with local vendors, and about the extra costs involved in the commitment to local products. If it rains, for example, the local lettuce crop might get washed out. The Republic gets its seafood exclusively from New England-based day boats out of Portland, Maine, or Gloucester or Boston, Mass. – a practice dependent on the daily catch and the elements that impact area fishermen.
“It’s rewarding personally and financially,” he said, “But it’s not always easy. It takes experience to know how to do this.”
The visit to Manchester was a culminating event for the Sustenance and Sustainability class, which has studied a variety of topics connected to agriculture and the environmental, social, and economic impacts of our food systems. In an effort to share what they have learned with fellow consumers, the class collaborated to create a website
Jackson said her ASP class, like many at St. Paul’s School, where she previously served on the faculty, includes a service component. Class members have volunteered at nearby Dimond Hill Farm, among other assignments.
“It’s great for them to see in practice what we have learned,” she said. “It helps them understand that this is real life – you do the best you can.”