The Edible Schoolyard

A good education--and a good school lunch--begins from the ground up

| November/December 2000

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The Edible Schoolyard

Hungry For More?

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California, plowed new ground in education when it started the Edible Schoolyard, a project that integrates organic gardening, harvesting, cooking, and eating into its academic curriculum. Since 1996, students have planted and tended vegetables in the 'garden classroom,'then prepared and ate them in the 'kitchen classroom.'The school grounds include a flower and herb bed, an outdoor bread oven, and olive, fig, and citrus trees. The goals? To help students awaken their senses, eat well, and gain a better sense of personal and social responsibility as well as stewardship of the land.

Alice Waters--founder of Berkeley's Chez Panisse restaurant, a former Montessori teacher, and a neighbor of the school--helped found the Edible Schoolyard. 'Ultimately I want our garden project to be the school lunch program at King,'Waters says. 'If something like this could be institutionalized in other schools--if you could have a curriculum that taught children these essential values--it could change the world.'

The folks at the Edible Schoolyard take calls from teachers and principals around the world asking for advice on how to make their own schoolyards more digestible. And gardens are showing up in schools across the country. Since California state superintendent of public instruction Delaine Eastin launched the School Garden Project four years ago, 1,600 school gardens have already been planted in the state. Eastin hopes eventually to have gardens in all of California's 8,000 schools.