Students from South Tech Culinary Academy flank the Subsidence Post in Belle Glade. The concrete post, which is 9 feet high, was sunk down to bedrock in 1924. Since then, 6 feet of soil have disappeared from where the post stands, leaving 3 feet of muck soil. In the orange shirt is Jehangir  “Jango” Bhadha, assistant professor  of soil and water science at the Everglades Research and Education Center. Third from right is Suzanne O’Neil, chef instructor at the Culinary Academy; at far right is Lori Durante, who runs Taste History Culinary Tours. / Contributed

Eleven students from South Tech Culinary Academy (STCA) recently took a “fascinating” field trip to Belle Glade, says Lori Durante. “They learned about sweet-corn farming and visited the Everglades Research and Education Center. The class also learned about careers in agriculture.”

Another topic with which the students became familiar: barn owls. (Watch a Florida Food & Farm file video on baby barn owls at

Durante, who operates Taste History Culinary Tours, accompanied the students. So did STCA Chef Instructors Walter Tanner and Suzanne O’Neil.

Their morning began with a 90-minute bus trip from the Boynton Beach charter school to Roth Farms in Belle Glade. There, farmer Buddy McKinstry served as their guide through rows of sweet corn, educating them about one of the largest crops in Palm Beach County.

Farmers in the Glades can grow 25,000 to 30,000 acres of sweet corn between November and May. That’s about 10 million crates of corn — at an average of 30 pounds each.

Farmer Buddy McKinstry (in green shirt) discusses sweet corn with the South Tech students. They are in a field owned by Roth Farms. / Contributed

The Three Senses Field Trip, as it was named, was designed to feature the senses of sight, touch and taste. The students experienced the sight, touch and taste of the two places they visited: Roth Farms and the Everglades Research and Education Center (EREC).

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences operates EREC.

Among the things Dr. Richard Raid of EREC (right) studies are barn owls. EREC and other farmers in the Glades use them as a pesticide-free way to eliminate crop pests such as rodents. / Lori Durante

The week before, 19 of the South Tech culinary arts-students — 11 of whom took the field trip — prepared various dishes with corn that Roth Farms had donated. Among them were Sweet-Corn Pancakes With Bacon, Sweet-Corn Fritters and Sunny’s Easy-Baked Sweet Corn.

After leaving Roth Farms, the students visited the Everglades Research and Education Center (EREC), south of Belle Glade.