Eco-Living Magazine

Book Review: Alice Waters’s Edible Schoolyard

Posted on the 06 October 2011 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Book Review: Alice Waters’s Edible SchoolyardToward the end of the summer I started reading Alice Waters’s Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea from Chronicle Books. It’s not long, but it is powerful. Waters is the proprietor of Chez Panisse, a restaurant in Berkeley, California that focuses on local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. In addition, Waters is a former teacher at a Montessori school in Berkeley. After seeing what she thought was an abandoned schoolyard, Waters got involved in creating a garden at Martin Luther King Middle School, which serves as the impetus for the book.

Over the course of several years, numerous people, including the school’s principal, many of its teachers, students, a master gardener, and others worked tirelessly to transfer a one acre plot of land from an asphalt patch turned garden turned outdoor classroom brimming with produce.

The following represent the principles of edible education:

Food is an Academic Subject
A school garden, kitchen, and cafeteria are integral to the core academic mission of the school, so that ecology and gastronomy help bring alive every subject, from reading and writing to science and art.

School Provides Lunch for Every Child
From preschool through high school, every child is served a wholesome, delicious meal, every day. Good food is a right not a privilege. Providing it every day brings children into a positive relationship with their health, their community, and the environment.

Schools Support Farms
School cafeterias buy seasonally fresh food from local, sustainable farms and ranches, not only for reasons of health and education, but as a way of strengthening local food economies.

Children Learn by Doing
Hands-on education, in which the children themselves do the work in the vegetable beds and on the cutting boards, awakens their senses and opens their minds, both to their core academic subjects and to the world around them.

Beauty is a Language
A beautifully prepared environment, where deliberate thought has gone into everything from the garden paths to the plates on the tables, communicates to children that we care about them.

One of the wonderful aspects of Edible Schoolyard is the fact that it is applicable to all schools everywhere. Some climates may provide a short growing season, but this doesn’t mean a garden is out of the question. Waters refers to a school in New Orleans, Louisiana that reflects local cultural values and cuisine.

As an indication of the earth’s fecundity, the one acre garden produced 300 ears of corn, 289 eggs, and 1,059 pounds of vegetables. This included 12 varieties of apples, carrots, beets, broccoli, onions, potatoes, lemons, and herbs, among other vegetables.

The following video provides a bit of information about the program, including interviews with Waters and several students. The program is part of the Chez Panisse Foundation and the Edible Schoolyard Project.

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