15 July 2013

The Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr Middle School in Berkeley

I've been wanting to share several images from my week at the Edible Schoolyard's summer institute. I can't recommend this program highly enough! I was lucky to be selected to attend the Institute, and then made even more grateful by receiving professional development funds from SFWS to cover the fee.

King is my alma mater. I graduated 8th grade there in 1982. When I was a student, the area now graced by the Edible School Yard was a dilapidated asphalt dirt space that we used for sneaking off campus or taking a short cut home. Nearly 20 years ago, thanks to the wisdom and inspiration of then principal Neil Smith, and of course Alice Waters, the space was transformed into a lush, productive, first class school garden.

An important component of the Edible Schoolyard's success is their amazing kitchen classroom and dedicated kitchen teachers. The students enjoy both gardening and cooking classes over the course of their three years at King. Supporting the head garden teachers, gardeners, and kitchen teachers are AmeriCorps members and local volunteers. Also, the Edible Schoolyard has a strong administrative staff that oversees its successful operations.

Take a look at their webpage to learn more.

I took away important lessons about the administration of my program, particularly concerning my volunteers and their training. I also was inspired to incorporate more tasting and cooking into my students' days. I met fellow garden teachers from around the world, and many here in California I'm sure I'll see and learn from again.

If you'd like to apply to the 2014 Academy, click here.

One of Alice Waters' major accomplishments has been the building of the Dining Commons on campus. Ironically this is built on the site of the old snack bar where I bought glazed donuts, ice cream, and hot fries (spicy, bright red "fry" chips in a sealed bag). Now, it's a gorgeous, open two-room dining space with large communal wooden tables and an open food preparation area where all district hot meals are cooked. A very important tenet of all experiences at the Edible Schoolyard is that the environment be beautiful. There are vases of fresh cut flowers on every table, colorful cloth napkins under each place setting, and a back door to the dining commons that is inviting as the front - to welcome the farmers of course who drop off the all important produce to the kitchen.

rolling tool cart 

School Dining Commons

Mulberry bush with a hidden interior

At the end of every day we listed satisfying moments in the day, and, what we we still wanted to cover the next.

Garden Manager and Teacher Geoff Palla