Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Breakwater Students Make and Teach Bread Making in YEZ
Students from the Breakwater School learned how to grow the ingredients for and bake bread, then displayed their product and the process in the Youth Enterprise Zone at the Fair. Photo courtesy of Sari Lindauer.

Photo courtesy of Sari Lindauer.
by Sari Lindauer

When my daughter Ona was 16, she joined the Youth Enterprise Zone (YEZ) for the first time. It was a late start by YEZ standards, but she was driven by her passion for creating, so she made and sold jewelry, pottery and maple bark baskets in two Fairs. The basket making was such an interesting process that we took pictures, which she displayed at the Fair.

Now 22, Ona is too old for YEZ but still creates in her spare time, selling her jewelry in a few galleries and stores from Maine to Ohio. She also dyes wool, spins, weaves and makes cheese, jams and beer when she gets the chance Now her sister Gaelyn has started in YEZ. Unlike Ona, Gaelyn participated for the first time this year at age 12 with her classmates from a pilot grade 6 program at Breakwater School in Portland called Expedition Six (E6). The students made focaccia and documented the process in making their YEZ products. They learned about photojournalism from a local professional journalist and created panel displays showing the story from field to loaf using photographs and descriptions of the farmers and small businesses that helped along the way.

Their ingredient expedition started at Jim Cook’s Skylandia Farm in Grand Isle, Maine. There they interviewed Jim and his daughter Leah, learning about wheat farming in Aroostook County, “the breadbasket of Maine.” They went down the road to Northernmost Feeds, an organic feed operation run by Ben and Kat Albert of Madawaska, to find out more about organic grain. They learned about the creativity and inventiveness of small-scale farmers. They learned that smart small farm operations use all they have, are champion recyclers, often rely on each other for sharing equipment, and often have to create needed equipment when money is not available to buy new machinery; and that research grants bring in needed money as well as compensation and incentive for improving the quality of products for sale to the public.

At Matt and Linda Williams’ Aurora Mill in Linneus, Maine, the students learned about cleaning and grinding wheat berries into flour. They bought enough flour from the Williamses to make over 90 loaves of focaccia in Portland, and some wheat berries to grind by hand at their interactive table for fairgoers. Finally they learned about making cheese at the State of Maine Cheese Company in Rockport.

The Story of Focaccia panels are circulating at conferences and schools, such as the Western Mountains Alliance/Maine Alternative Agriculture Association’s farm to school conference called Reconnecting Farms with Communities. Our students have offered to take their story to other small schools and have already taught their own kindergarten, first and second graders about bread making.

We hope that other YEZ participants might share their processes. After all, we consider the Common Ground Country Fair to be all about educating the public. On Fridays, when YEZ is in full operation, hundreds of school children flood the fairgrounds, many seeking information. Imagine how much they could learn from children their age and how they might be inspired to do the same in future years?

For more information, please contact me: Sari Lindauer, Breakwater School Expedition 6 Lead Teacher, 856 Brighton Ave., Portland, ME 04102; Breakwater campus: 772-8689 X235; Birch Ledge campus: 727-4150.

YEZ – Youth Enterprise Zone Clicking here will take you to our YEZ page in the Fair section.