Lexington camp teaches hearing impaired students about cooking, agriculture

tcrumbie@herald-leader.comJune 19, 2014 

The light aroma of raw chicken and vegetable stock filled the kitchen and hallways of the Georgian manor house.

Deaf and hard of hearing students, with the aid of interpreters, gathered around as the Irish chef issued his next instruction.

The students received their lesson about sustainable food sources at Fairyhouse Hall on 3250 Delong Road in Lexington.

The encounter was part of an agriculture camp hosted by the Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville, a K-12 school for those who are hearing impaired. The camp teaches students about the various aspects of agriculture. Sandy Smock, creator of the camp and an instructor at KSD, said it was important for kids to learn about agriculture because of how much it contributes to their lives.

"Everything we do, everything we eat, wear, what we live in, all are products of agriculture," Smock said.

The 13 high school students gathered around the marble counter as chef Shane Haffey demonstrated the basics on kitchen etiquette including hygiene, dicing vegetables and cooking, setting a table and how to properly handle food such as raw chicken. The students were urged to participate, even told they could not eat if they did not help.

Haffey, owner of the Fairyhouse Hall, said he has been cooking most of his life and loves food of all types, ranging from Indian to West African. He raises the livestock on the farm and said it was "awesome" to raise his own food.

"It's how it used to be," Haffey said. "You didn't run to McDonald's. You didn't run to grocery stores. Because there were none."

Smock said the challenge with teaching deaf kids is overcoming the language barrier, especially with special terminology. She overcomes this by giving the students background information and connecting the topics to something they already know. In order to help with the learning experience, Haffey allowed the students to use their hands as much as possible as he emphasized his visual demonstration.

The adolescents' experience wasn't confined to the home. They got to explore the farm behind it, too. From raising animals to gardening, the students learned a little bit about each facet of farming. The teenagers were able to get close to the animals, even being able to cradle young ducks in their hands.

Turner Cash, one of the students, said the schooling was something that a classroom could not provide.

"It's very interesting," Cash said. "I learned a lot more about agriculture than I think I would learn in like a science class or any other class for that matter."

At the end of the lesson, the students enjoyed their hard work, munching on some of the food they had prepared, such as crustless quiches, Italian caprese salads and a chocolate mousse for desert. The students not only took with them lessons and techniques they will use on their own farm, but left with copies of recipes provided by Haffey. He encouraged the students to cook their own food and to become more self-sufficient.

"I think everybody should be doing this," Haffey said.

Trey Crumbie: (859) 231-1687. Twitter: @TreyCrumbieHL

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