Now this is something that every school in America should get involved with! The Edible Schoolyard provides urban public school students with a one-acre organic garden and a kitchen classroom. Using food systems as a unifying concept, students learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare nutritious seasonal produce. It is a program at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, CA (of course), but I would love to see this go nationwide into every school. The things that kids everywhere could learn from seeing where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate! Too many schools serve nothing but junk and kids spend all their free time afterschool indoors playing video games, and this could really help to teach them healthy eating habits and get excited about the outdoors and the environment.
The Edible Schoolyard is a non-profit program located on the campus of Martin Luther King Junior Middle School in Berkeley, California. The cooking and gardening program grew out of a conversation between chef and author Alice Waters, and former King Middle School Principal Neil Smith. Planning commenced in 1995 and two years later, more than an acre of asphalt parking lot had been cleared. A cover crop was planted to enrich the soil, and in 1997, the school’s unused 1930s cafeteria kitchen was refurbished to house the kitchen classroom. Today, the program is integrated into the middle school’s daily life. The organic garden is flourishing, plants feed and outgrow the adolescents who nurtured them, and the kitchen is filled with delicious smells, music, and enthusiastic young chefs. Garden classes teach the Principles of Ecology, the origins of food, and respect for all living systems. Students work together to shape and plant beds, amend soil, turn compost, and harvest flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
I just think this is fantastic, and I hope other schools can learn from the success they are having up in Berkeley. Kids are spending so much time indoors that there is even a movement called “Leave No Child Inside” that is growing across the country. This program could certainly go a long way to helping them with their message of “get your kids outdoors and away from the TV!“.