A Locally Grown School-Community Partnership
In 2007, EduCulture began a series of school-community dialogues about the role of food and farm education in K-12 schools on Bainbridge Island. These conversations concluded with a wish list for a series of pilot programs in edible education that began with a handful of teachers and classes. Since then, EduCulture has been partnering with Bainbridge Island School District (BISD) to grow a foundation of edible education programming across elementary and secondary education. In 2014, EduCulture became the formal liaison for BISD’s new Edible Education Initiative, contracted to serve and support BISD in meeting edible education goals and objectives, and to help develop the educational architecture to maintain and sustain edible education programming across the district.
Combining the skills and insights of farmers and teachers, Educulture has developed elementary Life Science Curriculum and teacher Professional Development. We created and tested original NGSS and STEAM aligned Place-Based and Environmental Science curriculum that also integrates grade level Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies themes, as well as Social and Emotional Learning, Multiculturalism, and CTE. These units of study, grounded in state and district Health and Wellness policies, are developmentally appropriate scope-and-sequenced and scaffolded for K-4. We have created lessons and supporting materials for the farm, school gardens, and the classroom. We also have developed and tailored Professional Development in Garden Education Best Practices for elementary teaching staff.
In elementary education, it can be found in dedicated Edible Education Pathway Programs, including lessons on plant/animal life cycles, soil composition, and farm and food culture, Northwest Native cultures, and Bainbridge Island history. These pathways have themes and topics that connect to core curriculum within each grade and thread student learning experiences through working farms, instructional plots, school gardens, classrooms, and school kitchens.
- Kindergarten – Fall Pumpkin Harvest, Spring Follow the Chicken Egg
- Grade 1 – New Plants: Garlic, Greens
- Grade 2 – Sugar Pumpkins & Delicata Squash
- Grade 3 – Makah Ozette Potatoes
- Grade 4 – Bainbridge Island Heritage Strawberries
At the secondary level, it’s rooted in field classes that enrich course work from Advanced Foods to Global Citizenship to Special Education.
From Island master farmers to today’s elementary students, there have been three generations of Bainbridge Island students and alums, spanning nine decades, raising food for the Bite of Bainbridge in the BISD school lunch program.
This ground breaking edible education initiative has received endorsement from District Leadership, School Administrations, School Board, PTO’s, and Bainbridge Schools Foundation. From 2007-2014, EduCulture was primarily responsible for building capacity and securing the funding to underwrite edible education at BISD. PTOs of participating schools soon began underwriting the cost of farm field classes, which has continued through the present. In 2014, Bainbridge Schools Foundation stepped in to generously provide significant on-going funding support to underwrite initiative programming and has made the Edible Education Initiative one its Innovation priorities.
This support has been complemented with community partnerships with farmers, food producers, retail food businesses, restaurants, local organizations, institutions, and the City of Bainbridge Island. Through an incremental process of grassroots organizing, educational architecture, and school-community partnerships, we have rooted this work among farms, gardens, classrooms, tasting rooms, lunchrooms, compost piles, and the wider community on Bainbridge Island in service to local schools, students, educators and parents.
In 2011, the EduCulture Project was honored by Bainbridge Island School District with a Community Recognition Award for our service to Island schools. EduCulture was also presented an award by the Washington Association of School Administrators for “outstanding leadership and contributions to the improvement of public education.”
Edible Education Initiative Highlights and Impacts
Kindergarten students study the life cycle of chickens during the spring season at Heyday Farm on Bainbridge Island. These two hour field classes guide these young students in following a egg from being hatched on an organic farm to preparing, cooking and eating that egg. Kindergartners spend time touring and learning about a pastured raised poultry operation, then follow the egg from the nest box to the washing machine to the Heyday Farm Kitchen. Students learn basic skills to prepare a egg soufflé with fresh farm ingredients. While their creations are in the oven, students put on their science hats to compare and contrast fresh farm eggs with a store-bought egg- studying color, shape, texture, weight, yolks, whites, and finally tasting a scrambled sample of each. Educulture has also piloted a Chicken in Residence program at Wilkes Elementary. For a month in the spring, a temporary brooding coop is set up on campus where kindergarten students follow and study daily the incubation and hatching of small clutch of fertile eggs under a broody hen.
These lived, field experiences inform more lived curricular connections for teachers and students. The outdoor classrooms we have created model effective placed based teaching and learning. Students see their community as curriculum. Social & emotional learning is enhanced and enriched through these outdoor, field experience through interaction in natural and agricultural settings, engagement with the life cycle of live animals, and the observation of a sustainable food chain of our local community, and meeting local farmers and chefs.
Makah Ozette Potato, 3rd Grade
Throughout the school year, third grade students have been studying the life cycle of the Makah Ozette Potato. The life cycle of this particular potato was chosen because of ties to their Northwest Native social studies curriculum, and is being linked to NGSS Life Science curriculum connected to the focusing on the flowering of plants. This potato seed brought by Spanish Conquistadors to the Makah Nation hundreds of years ago is now a Northwest food tradition. In the fall, 3rd graders harvest Ozette potatoes planted by the previous year’s 3rd graders in school gardens and instructional farm plots. Potatoes are stored for late fall culinary & tasting lessons in school classrooms and kitchens. Winter learning activities include classroom visits by Master Farmer/Instructor Betsey Wittick of Laughing Crow Farms. In Spring, students observe master farmer Betsey Wittick planting potatoes on Laughing Crow Farm, then plant their own seeds at our instructional farm plots and school gardens. This pathway is also modeling place based education and enriching social and emotional learning across learning landscapes of working farm, instructional farm, school garden, school kitchen, and classroom.
Advanced Foods, High School
Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Family and Consumer Science Education (FACSE), has long been home to food studies course work in secondary education. Through the BISD Edible Education Initiative, Educulture has worked with teachers to design and facilitate a series of field classes to enrich and enliven Foods and Advanced Foods courses. Field classes include visiting Town & Country Market to practice meal planning, Following the Egg at Heyday Farm with Chef Tad Mitsui, learning about the anatomy of Hitchcock restaurant with Chef Brendan McGill (see above photo), and visiting to the Edible City exhibit at MOHAI.
Global Citizenship, High School
Bainbridge High School’s Global Citizenship course is a required senior elective with a third of the semester’s curriculum focusing on issues of farming and food. EduCulture has been enriched and enhancing the Global Citizenship curriculum with field classes that examine anatomy of local food production at Middlefield Farm (owned by Town & Country Markets, and managed by Farmer Partner, Brian MacWhoter), exploring the anatomy of the grocery store at Town & Country Market (see above photo), and through classroom dialogues with these local farmers and grocers. The edible education initiative has helped to bridge classroom and community towards a more lived curriculum that localizes their global studies in farming and food, and helps prepare BHS seniors to navigate their food communities as college students.