Today we woke up early and headed to the dining hall for our first meal at the Ranch: a delicious breakfast of grits, sausage, and cinnamon rolls. All the meat served here is also raised here, and many of the fruits and vegetables served in the dining hall are grown at the Ranch as well. Food scraps are recycled into compost for the fields where we’ll be working this week, and they are also weighed to encourage groups to waste less food each day — so the entire experience of a meal here helps us to think about issues of sustainability, health, food waste, and more.
After breakfast, our group walked across the Ranch to a special building where they lead team-building exercises. As we played games and worked our way through various challenges we also learned more about the values and core principles of Heifer International.
The afternoon brought a special food class called “Just Dough It” in which our team made pizza from scratch. They ground wheat and made their own crust, crushed tomatoes and picked herbs for homemade sauce, and milked a goat to make goat cheese. Then, while the pizzas baked, we learned about the differences between industrial agriculture and local small-scale agriculture, the benefits of CSAs, and other issues affecting our food supply chain in the US and abroad. The lessons were powerful and the pizza was delicious!
After dinner tonight we stayed in our cabin for some much needed downtime. We watched a movie, played games, snacked, and laughed before heading to bed early. Tomorrow will be a big day (and a hot day), so we need our rest. We’ll check in again tomorrow!