What could be better than throwing a pizza party to learn about local food and celebrate the season’s first harvest of tomatoes, basil, and oregano? Nearly 50 students from the Ecology Club at P.B. Smith Elementary School recently visited Airlie to help harvest ingredients from our very special “pizza garden” and turn the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor into tasty pizzas with the help of chefs Jeff Witte and Jeremy Anderson.
As part of our Local Food Project, Airlie partnered with P.B. Smith Elementary to host this special event for kids to learn more about local food and farm-to-table cooking. Using ingredients grown in our very own gardens, chefs Jeremy and Jeff gave a lesson on pizza making and helped the group bake their personal pies on our large outdoor grill.
After the professional pizza-tossing tutorial, the kids got to work. Using homemade pizza dough, pomodoro sauce made with local tomatoes and Airlie garden oregano, and cheeses from Oak Springs Dairy in Upperville, VA, everyone assembled their personal pie and, with the help of chefs Jeff and Jeremy, transferred them to the grill.
Outdoor grills are perfect for making pizza—high temperatures result in a crispy crust and perfectly melted cheese, and the entire process takes just a few minutes. The Oak Springs Dairy Gouda and Provolone cheeses, made with milk from the farm’s herd of Jersey and Brown Swiss Cows, was a flavorful blend. As soon as they came off the grill, everyone seasoned their pizza with more fresh basil and oregano from the garden.
The pizza party was a great opportunity for students to learn about responsible stewardship of the land, sustainable agriculture, and the benefits of eating locally grown foods. Most importantly, it was a delicious day for everyone involved!