I grew up watching my mother and grandmother tend their huge gardens full of vegetables and some fruits. In the last couple years I have started a small garden at home and have watched my kids enjoy helping and even trying the vegetables we have grown (which is a breakthrough moment for my anti-vegetable daughter). Today’s organization has been bringing vegetables into schools for over 16 years.
In 1995, Alice Waters was quoted in her local paper stating that the school she passed each day looked as if no one cared about it. The principal of that school, Neil Smith, contacted her to see if she had an idea to help. Alice, a chef, wanted to start a garden and teaching kitchen at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. She saw these as tools for enriching the curriculum and the life of the school community. The idea slowly began to take to form and through the involvement of faculty and parent volunteers, The Edible Schoolyard was born.
The garden and kitchen are not just used to teach gardening and cooking. Lessons have included teaching fractions in the kitchen and growing heirloom grains to learn about early civilizations. In addition, students who are involved in the garden are more likely to try the foods grown there.
The mission of the Edible Schoolyard is to create and sustain an organic garden and landscape that is wholly integrated into the school’s curriculum, culture, and food program. At Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California the Edible Schoolyard curriculum is fully integrated into the school day and teaches students how their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities.
You can watch the Edible Schoolyard in action in this short video:
The Edible Schoolyard Program now supports school garden programs throughout the world by providing resources and tools for teachers, parents, and advocates. During the summer, the Berkeley location opens their doors to host the Edible Schoolyard Academy to provide hands-on activities, presentations, guided discussions, and curriculum building sessions to provide participants with the tools for teaching edible education.
How can you become involved?
- Explore the network of school garden programs on the Edible Schoolyard website to see if a school near you is participating. You can also register your school program.
- Utilize the resources for school garden programs on the organization’s website or even contribute your own resource.
- Sign up for the Edible Schoolyard Academy to learn how to incorporate edible education into your school.
- You can also make a monetary donation to support the Edible Schoolyard program on their website.
- If you live in Berkeley, California, you can volunteer at the Edible Schoolyard there. Learn more on their website. You can also volunteer at a school program near you. To find one, search here.