Posted on March 11th, 2012
“Respect for the land- planting seeds, observing the growth, harvesting.”
“Learning via hands-on experience- watering, hoeing, chopping.”
“The creation of and appreciation of beauty-a meaningful centerpiece, a single egg, a fresh-off-the-vine tomato.”
“Healthier food choices- organic milk, farm-to-table, universally available.”
“Valuing meal-time together- sharing, listening, fostering conversation.”
“The ritual of preparing food- hand washing, aprons, setting the table.”
These are all core values of the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, the garden/kitchen classroom Alice Waters helped initiate at the Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, Ca. I had the opportunity to tour the beautiful, open space last week. The garden is artfully laid-out- simple and open, yet wild and lush. Colorful, hand-painted signs (no doubt handmade as a school project by the students) label the various garden plots so tastefully.
Perfectly aligned rows of lettuces, beets, and kale, and patches of sorrel, herbs, and berry bushes surround. On one side sits a wood burning outdoor oven for an all-time-favorite pizza lesson. The central circular outdoor classroom is almost alter-like, where kids respect typical classroom etiquette, in a ritualized, communal manner.
Healthy and robust chickens are roaming and scratching about in the yard.The bounty and beauty in the garden attracts the most beautiful butterflies and birds- even the abundant ladybugs appear larger, healthier, and even have a sort of superior shiny quality.
Stepping foot into the kitchen you feel transformed. The space is so warm and welcoming with the soft earthy palette and homey aroma of past meals prepared. It’s a beautiful, tranquil haven. Every single detail is so thoughtfully, consciously in place. Fresh flowers on the table perfectly placed allowing a peek into the edible garden beyond. Every pot and each ladle sitting still, as if in meditation, just awaiting to be put to use. Herbs are gracefully hung on the walls, so thoughtfully. The environment so perfect, yet so friendly and inviting and usable which creates the ideal setting for the hourdes of 11-14 year old kids that work and learn inside each day.
Not only are these 950 kids covering core curriculum in here- science, math, social studies, and English, often explicitly connected to their classrooms, but these kids are radically interested and invested in the garden, the experience, the opportunity to get outside and get in touch with the land. They are LOVING the time spent in the garden and kitchen, often taking home soil, seedlings, and recipes from the kitchen (think fresh pretzels, gremolita, grains + greens) while bringing back stories of integration into their home lives.
And studies have shown that these kids are eating 3-4X more veggies than others. They are experiencing the whole process- for example, planting amaranth seeds, caring for the young plants through maturity, harvesting the grains, cooking these as a school lesson, and then having the opportunity to taste and enjoy a beautiful, satisfying meal they have expended so much energy into preparing. It’s the entire process, made real, made accessible, made enjoyable.
Luna Leggings is extremely proud to be a supporter of this amazing program, this amazing place- we donate 10% profits to the Edible Schoolyard Project. Our designs are inspired by the natural world, and in particular the edible garden- our Strawberry, our Blueberry, our Sweet Pea. Witnessing the immense work the Edible Schoolyard Project has done for children locally and nation-wide is bringing awareness to the important concept of real food and vital nourishment. We truly hope Luna Leggings will help make a difference for these children.