Edible Schoolyard Academy (ES Part I)

Before I plunge into all that I learned, let me explain the basics of the Edible Schoolyard (ES.)  It is a project started 20 years ago by Chef Alice Waters at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, California.

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It has a one-acre garden…

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with a beautiful central teaching space: straw bales in a ring under a ramada with kiwi vines…

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…a small but efficiently run greenhouse with timed irrigation….

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….a compost row, when these very hot piles are turned every two weeks, resulting in finished compost in 8…

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…a well-organized tool shed (more on that later)…

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…outdoor oven…

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…and much more (veggies, flowers, fruit and nut trees, olive grove, rainwater harvesting, etc.)

They also have a beautiful kitchen and cooking education building…

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…a peek inside (more on this later too)

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..all of which is based on Alice’s principles of an “edible education,” spelled out on the side of the building.

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Take a look at the jaw-dropping dining commons…

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…where we ate delicious things such as…

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This program is run by a team of garden managers and interns, head chef and cooking instructors, program administrators and office staff, Americorps volunteers, summer interns, and consultants, all of whom we met the first day of the Academy.  They run the Academy once a year, for about a 100 attendees, to share all of their secrets.

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St. Alice also spoke, emphasizing her big, audacious idea: a free, delicious, sustainable school lunch for every child in America.

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Then we broke into three cohorts, by region, and spent one full day on each rotation: garden, kitchen, and administration.  We also had panels on fundraising, the farm to school movement and school lunch reform and one night went out for an a-w-e-s-o-m-e dinner in Oakland at Pizzaola.  Our days were full–example of garden day below:

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My next four posts will talk about the Academy thematically, starting with one of Alice’s main principles: “Beauty is the language of care.”  Stay tuned….meanwhile, happy, fuzzy picture of me by the lovely, handmade ES banner.

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Announcing our newest grant….

The Julian Elementary Garden is pleased excited thrilled beyond ecstatic to announce that we were recently awarded a Sage Garden Project Grant.  It’s a bit dreamy.  Listen to what we receive from this lovely foundation:

-Funding for my garden educator position for next year

-A fully equipped cooking cart that can be wheeled into the classroom for demonstrations

-Access to all of their garden and cooking lessons

-Tuition and expenses at the Edible Schoolyard Academy—an comprehensive, 5-day academy built around the program at King Middle School.  King has an extraordinary garden, kitchen and cooking program fully integrated into their 6th, 7th and 8th grade humanities classes.  It was founded by Alice Waters, the owner of a French restaurant in Berkeley (Chez Panisse) and an internationally known speaker, writer on food and justice and all-around rockstar.

The academy took place last week in Berkeley, and it worked perfectly for me to attend.  Summers ago, my family had made a stop at this famous school garden and kitchen to look around.  The kitchen was locked but I snapped photos which are catalogued on this blog under the “children’s garden ideas” tab.  This time I spent five days learning, often experientially, about their garden, kitchen, cooking classes, dining commons, and school lunch.  It was completely amazing.  So amazing that I’ll be posting about it in a series of posts throughout the summer. For now, back to Sage.  None of this would have been possible without them, and our district is profoundly grateful for their support.  Another thing we “won” with this grant: inclusion in this cool cohort of grant recipients. I look forward to learning from them in the year to come. IMG_6565Sage Garden Project Grant Cohort at the Edible Schoolyard