Right there, in the middle of every school day, lies time and energy already devoted to the feeding of children. We have the power to turn that daily school lunch from an afterthought into a joyous education, a way of caring for our health, our environment, and our community. – Alice Waters, Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea
Snap. Pop. Crunch. Ahh. You just ate a sugar snap pea freshly picked from the schoolyard. Did you just say Schoolyard? Last time I checked schools didn’t have fresh produce at the snap of their fingers….
Rewind 17 years ago. Berkeley, California. Meet Alice Waters, the brainchild behind the movement.
Alice is a renowned chef, entrepreneur, and visionary genius. She is responsible for the conception of The Edible Schoolyard Project at Martin Luther King Jr middle school in Berkeley California.
The main idea behind Alice’s “delicious revolution” is to change the way kids learn about food. To cultivate a curriculum that teaches kids “the origins of their foods, plant life cycles, and how to dig, weed, sow and reap their own produce.” The 1,000 or so 11-13 year olds at the Martin Luther middle school had the opportunity to create the first self-sufficient garden of its kind.
Alice’s vision started with a slab of asphalt which she turned it into a sea of green. An empty classroom that now conducts cooking classes. And a whole bunch of kids that no longer eat sloppy joes at lunch but instead, get to talk about the cool meals they created.The days of junk food and boring PB&J sandwiches are over.
My favorite aspect of the program is the sense of community the kids get out of it. They work together to prepare the meals that are served on tables set by their peers. It’s so easy to forget about how important eating together can be. Breaking bread with the people we care about is vital to a healthy home environment, and some kids don’t get to experience that luxury. With the edible schoolyard project, those kids take home the positive experiences and pass on what they’ve learned to their parents.
The Edible Schoolyard project started out as a small idea that has grown into a global movement. One day, Alice hopes there will be a garden in every school. Below are some pictures taken by Rachel Ray when she visited the Martin Luther King Jr middle school: