Civil War Cooking in Damariscotta

South Bristol students with the Farms at the Y director, leslie Wicks

(Pictured: South Bristol students with the Farms at the Y director, Leslie Wicks)

What do you get when you combine a nutrition program, a historical society, and a middle school ELA/Social Studies class? A four-course Civil War meal of course!  In March, a group of middle school students from the South Bristol School came to the Central Lincoln County YMCA to cook a Civil War meal.  Volunteers from the Lincoln County Historical Association came to help students chop and cook, as well as share interesting historical facts.  This was part of a Civil War unit that teacher Kayla Wright and her students were learning about.

On this particular afternoon, the students huddled around the kitchen island as Leslie Wicks, the FARMS at the Y director, explained the four recipes the students would be working on.  The students would be cooking navy bean soup, vegetable hash, fried apples, and gingerbread.  Before sending them off, Leslie talked about cooking safety and techniques and the differences between cooking at home and cooking in a commercial kitchen. For example, there would be a lot more hand washing involved.  Louise from the historical society explained why these recipes were appropriate for that time.  In fact, the gingerbread didn’t have any ginger in it!

In short order, the students were chopping, stirring, and whisking their way to a meal that people during the Civil War might have eaten.  Historical society volunteers were there to guide students and to talk to them about what life might have looked like in the mid-1800s.  To wrap the class up, the teams set tables and everyone sat down to enjoy their well-cooked meal.  Gauging from the empty plates, their fellow students did a great job cooking the meal.  The class was an example of the power of interdisciplinary experiences since the students learned about history, literacy, math, career readiness, and health.

The FARMS at the Y program provides nutrition education with a focus on nutrient-dense, Maine-grown vegetables with the aim to broaden program access and reach through expanded collaboration with local public schools and local farmers.  They offer hands-on experiences for people of all ages in cooking, gardening, and a passion for healthier living. The hands-on food programs developed by FARMS at the Y have reached students in every grade from childcare to K-8 public & private schools in Lincoln County. Currently, this program serves all 3rd (and some 4th) graders in the AOS93 district and is free to schools through grant funding.  In addition to working with school groups, the FARMS staff also provides professional development workshops for teachers.  For more about the FARMS at the Y program, contact Leslie Wicks at

The Maine DOE encourages all schools and districts across the State of Maine to learn more about interdisciplinary instruction on our website or by contacting our Interdisciplinary Instruction Team Coordinator at