Summer Food Course Photos 2010

Summer Food Course Photos 2011

Summer Food Course Photos 2012

Welcome to this site, all interested in resilient farming!

Welcome to this site, all interested in resilient farming!

The postings most appropriate for you have the label, "Resilient Farms."

Monday, December 19, 2016

San Miguel de Allende 2016

One week in (or close to) the dead center of Mexico, 14 students, 1 assistant, and 1 faculty member constituted one of the most intensive study travel experiences I, personally, have had.  In the U.S., 8 months later, we are still processing all that we experienced. It was with the expert facilitation of Jorge Catalan and Wendy Coulson, plus a most gracious hostel host, and exceptional tour guides that we were able to witness so much of the beautiful culture and ever-present challenges of daily life in San Miguel de Allende. We are ready for more, August 24-September 7, 2017. This time, with service learning.

Our group, each contributing an important life skill, interest, and energy to our travels

Student Kate, Teacher Gigi, and Assistant Dan

Excursion: The nearby pyramids, close to where we stayed at a mystical ranch

The mask museum, San Miguel de Allende

CHEESE -- classes, field trips, excursions to Switzerland, home cheese making

In effect, teaching and researching the natural processes of cheese making is nothing less than an attempt to save declining species of cheese bacteria and molds (unique to each particular cheese cave), to preserve efficient nutrient cycling of whey wastes and inputs, and to honor the cheesemakers themselves, who facilitate the life-giving natural processes. Cheese makes it possible to store milk for extended periods of time, in less sweet form.

Master affineurs, such as the Mons family near Lyons, France and professional organizations, such as the American Cheese Society, are safehavens for such processes. I had the enormous pleasure to work with both within the past two years, bringing the results of my study home to students, my colleagues, my family.

Ruth Sofield and Gigi Berardi teaching in their Art and Science of Cheese class, summer 2015, Western Washington University. Next course: Summer 2017.
Field trip to Shaw Island, Our Lady of the Rock dairy

In our classroom, a beautiful cheese spread -- for tasting

At Rhonda Gothberg's long-time goat dairy. Rhonda, a former nurse, is a master cheesemaker and a major force in Washington state for local creameries.
Goat cheese, raw, in Switzerland

The most rich, luscious cheese fondue, in Switzerland
Also in Switzerland, a magnificent spread of raw milk, biodynamic cheeses, charcuterie, homemade jams, and heritage-grains breads
At home, my sheep in their BB&B (Breeding Bed & Breakfast) -- Socks on the left and Sugar on the right, a friend in the middle
A beautiful round, after pressing with light weight

An aging peccorino (referring to the cheese)

Global Learning: Intensives in the United States and in Switzerland

Summer in Switzerland is a tremendously enriching time. Our destination is invariably a most mystical place -- Dornach, Switzerland. To prepare for the Europe trip in general, students read and then respond to questions in a classroom at our university, Western Washington University. This, and potlucks, is how we begin to form our learning community. In Dornach, we study the mysteries of the universe, as manifest in the social life of bees, as well as develop the social community of cooking, as seen in the glorious images below.

My intensive teaching-learning programs all begin with a first-exam (much like a final or last exam, but in reverse; students take it on the first day of class and are asked to respond to questions on all the readings). This way, we know that we are on the same page in terms of mastering the material that will provide a foundation for our studies.

Master teacher and practitioner Johannes Wirz, lecturing on anthroposophical (phenomenologically-oriented) beekeeping.

Johannes gently adding smoke to the hives, calming the bees as he interrupts their daily routine.

A most unusual beehive in which the frames are rounded.

Our 2016 group in front of the Goetheanum, built in the 1920s according to specifications from Rudolf Steiner. The large hall/theater was built to perform the works of Goethe, in particular, Faust, Steiner's mystery plays, and more.

The group, in front of the Glass House, our lovely classroom, enlivened with Norwegian shake, rounded forms, large windows -- and serious esoteric study.

In our comfortable residence, the beautiful, Begegnungszentrum

In the common rooms, playing music or chatting
Cooking at Bz, Goetheanum potatoes
Tristan, head chef, at the Goetheanum

Most beautiful raw milk cheeses
With sheep milk
With goat milk

Obviously, these esoteric scientists are waiting for lunch...

...which they were well-rewarded with, after an invigorating hike.
 This year, we will spend several days agains in this very beautiful spot -- home to anthroposophical medicine, Weleda preparations, and biodynamic farming on all scales. Sign up is with the Italy program: Switzerland-Italy program 2017

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Solstice and World foods

Winter Solstice is fast approaching, and soil energies are vitalizing the microbial and macro fauna so as to cycle nutrients in a most efficient way. Plants take advantage of the improved nutrient status, and humans benefit. Here are some favorite foods, worldwide -- and a soil treatment that enhances such nutrient cycling.

The soil treatment is hay-mulching. Here, agroecology students in August prepare winter beds.
The mulch is effective in managing soil temperatures (protection from cold, protection from heat), retaining moisture, adding nutrients.

Perennial wheats, maximizing nutrient-cycling efficiencies. Perennial guru Stephen Jones, presenting.

Sukuma wikiin Swahili-speaking countries, literally meaning "to push the week"...greens around the world
are nutrient-packed. In Italy, they can be as expensive as a "primo," first course dish.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

It's time to start thinking about the mysticism of the Swiss Goetheanum, the conviviality of eating, and sensory taste studies in Italy!

This is our eighth year for the program, which to date has hosted over 100 student. We are taking just 11 more this year.
Pre-departure session dates: June 11-14, 2017 This is our eighth year for the program, which to date has hosted over 100 student. We are taking just 11 more this year.
Pre-departure session dates: June 11-14, 2017
Travel dates:
  • Optional Switzerland excursion: June 15 – 17, 2017
  • Florence: June 18 - July 9, 2017

Program Details
This food studies program begins with culinary intensives in Bellingham, then moves to Florence, Italy, where students study heritage food cultures. Students also study in the prestigious University of Florence sensory taste sciences department, with the renowned gastronomy/sensory taste scientists, Caterina Dinnella and Erminio Monteleone.  Italian family home stays, Tuscan countryside excursions, cultural tours, and hikes. Museum visits included. The cost of this program provides most meals in Italy, including country and palazzo-dining in the Tuscan countryside, as well as conversational Italian and introductory art history as part of the food culture experience.

Additional credits are available through independent study.

Enrollment is limited to 11. 
  • Experience Italian farm- and home-cooking with Italian families and in hands-on culinary intensives in Italy, the home of the “Slow Food” movement
  • Visit Fiesole (with its Etruscan sites and ruins)
  • Visit San Gimingiano (Tuscan countryside)
  • Visit Il Palagio (Tuscan countryside)
  • Italian cooking classes
  • Museum visits included, e.g., The Uffizi (the Louvre of Italy)
  • Study sensory taste science with European experts at the University of Florence (4 days)
  • Study natural animal breeding and biodynamic farming
  • Observe cheesemaking
  • Participate in carbon-offsetting 
  • The cost of this program provides most meals in Italy, including country and palazzo-dining in the Tuscan countryside, as well as conversational Italian and introductory art history as part of the food culture experience

Our classroom in Switzerland

Pre-departure cooking

One of our classrooms in Florence

One of our cooking classes in Florence

Italian culture, etiquette, language

Under the Tuscan Sun -- last day reflections on our university, language, and travel studies

Last meal in Italy, at Il Palagio

Return to the U.S., more meals


Gigi with Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini
Gigi Berardi, Huxley professor, received her B.A. in Biology from John Muir College, University of California San Diego and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Natural Resources, Policy, and Planning from Cornell University. She holds an M.A. in dance from UCLA.
Gigi has held four tenure-track positions and has taught at over a dozen colleges and universities – but she has saved the best for last: Western Washington University. Gigi’s research focus is on community vulnerabilities and food. In addition, she is an avid cook, gardener, student-of-languages, and fitness/dance enthusiast!
Gigi co-founded and served as interim director of the Resilience Institute at Huxley and currently serves as Resilient Farms Project co-director. Her current book projects are entitled Food! and A Cultivated Life.

Monday, February 15, 2016

San Miguel de Allende

This few days in San Miguel de Allende have been a perfect blend of learning and teaching. First up, the 11th annual San Miguel de Allende Writer’s Conference and Literary Festival was a terrific mix of excellent faculty, stimulating keynotes, and interactive writing practice. Lessons learned about: Powerful storytelling (verbs, verbs, verbs), compelling writing (ending each paragraph with the reader wanting to know, what’s next?), and seamless narrative (the reader wants surprises, but not unbelievable ones). All are course- and life-lessons for my students (yes, even those in ENVS 319!).

Gail Sheehy, author of 17 best-selling books

Second, I have had the opportunity (in one day) to visit Mexico City’s museums and palaces – treasure trove of histories of Mesoamerican culture, the legacy of colonialism, and independent polities today. This was followed by a brief tour to Guanojuato, the area referred to as the birthplace of the early Mexican revolution.

Third, this was an important reconnaissance for the “Geographies of Hope” program March 19-26. What follows are images of lodging, excursions, setting, and foods – to whet the appetite of the travel- and information-hungry students who will be joining me on this adventure.