EduCulture Makes Field Trip to Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA

Amongst the many farm-school field experiences we were facilitating on Bainbridge Island, a team from EduCulture took a professional field trip of our own.  On October 21, Board Member Ed Mikel, also representing Antioch University Seattle, Leslee Pate, program partner from the Food Shed, and myself (JG) spent the day in Berkeley, CA visiting the original Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School and engaging in a professional dialogue with staff from the Edible Schoolyard Project.

The Edible Schoolyard is the vision of Alice Waters, renowned culinary innovator and grandmother of the edible education movement.  Her vision has not only become a locally grown reality for a public middle school in her Berkeley community, it has become a model for what edible education can look like at any school. Over the past few years, I have had the honor of connecting with Alice Waters as a delegate to Terra Madre, in Turin, Italy during 2010 & 2012.  Her principles of edible education have been closely aligned with EduCulture’s, and the mission of the Edible Schoolyard has served as a great inspiration for our locally grown work.


Jon Garfunkel and Alice Waters at Terra Madre 2010

Over this past summer, we were approached by the Edible Schoolyard Project and began a meaningful professional dialogue with their staff that led to this special opportunity for a site visit and deeper discussion with ESY staff about the current and future state of edible education.

ESY Garden[1] The Edible Schoolyard garden at MLK Jr. Middle School, Berkeley, CA

Bearing witness to what has been cultivated at MLK Middle School, from the school garden to the classroom kitchen, was a tremendous professional treat for our team.  The one-acre garden replaced an old school parking lot and now includes a greenhouse, chicken coop, and African style bee hives, along with a variety of vegetables and fruits that make their way into the classroom kitchen and sometimes school lunch. The garden is well integrated into the school campus and is open to the neighborhood community when school is not is session. The 900 students in grades 6-8 cycle through a 5-7 week garden based curriculum followed by a similar kitchen based curriculum each school year that is directly connected to their core curriculum in math, science and social studies.

Short Video of the Edible Schoolyard Kitchen

The way the ESY Berkeley staff and MLK Middle School teachers have created a culture of curriculum that is threaded within the culture of the school and culture of the community is truly impressive.  ESY Project operates a global web based hub for edible education across the planet. I also admired the way they are striving to frame all of this work within the formal K-12 landscape, in a series of concentric circles of professional relationships from the classroom to school to district to state to nation, and beyond.

ESY Visit Signs[1]Colorful signs identify the garden’s fruits and vegetables

It was a treat to talk shop with the ESY team, who left us much to chew on.  In reflecting on this experience, it was powerful and meaningful to see the parallels in our approaches to edible education, given the respective paths each of our projects has taken in developing.  We all left feeling professionally fed and nourished with a fuller well of educational energy and inspiration.

We are grateful for the gracious hospitality extended to our EduCulture team, and look forward to developing program opportunities to collaborate with ESY.


ESYGroupPhoto[1](L-R) Ed Mikel (Global Source Board Member & Antioch University Seattle Faculty), Emilie Gioia (Digital Director of ESY Project), Jon Garfunkel, and Kyle Cornforth (Director of ESY Berkeley) after a meaningful professional dialogue at the ESY Campus.

Click here for more about the Edible Schoolyard Project 

Click here for more about Terra Madre

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