Spring Letter from the Director

June 16, 2014

Hello Friends of EduCulture,

This has been an energizing spring season for EduCulture.  It follows a restorative winter.

I spent some time this winter recharging my professional batteries by exploring the larger landscape of this growing field we call edible education. I had the chance to step into the world of national school lunch reform through an invitation to attend the National Gathering of SchoolFoodFocus, which brings together the largest players in American urban public school food service, the school districts, food companies, and governmental agencies.  In April, I was invited to bring the work of EduCulture to the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.  More than 1100 professionals working across the field of food in schools and other institutions came together in Austin, TX. I was involved in three presentations, and had the privilege of collaborating with and meeting some amazing people in this field of education.  It was an engaging and affirming experience to place the work of EduCulture within the wider landscape of edible education across the country.

We are excited about the deep relationships we are growing with our partner schools.  When you ask a class of 3rd or 4th graders from Wilkes Elementary how many have been coming to neighboring Suyematsu & Bentryn Family Farms since kindergarten, almost the entire class raises their hands.  It’s a powerful measure of slow education to see the enculturation that edible education can provide when neighboring farms become outdoor classrooms and schools become co-producers in the local food chain. You can read more about the accomplishments of our partner schools in the spring newsletter.

Relationships with our partner farmers are also taking deeper root. We are working in greater collaboration to develop plant and animal pathways for students that mirror our local food community. Following locally raised crops from master farm to instructional farm to school garden allows for greater educational parity between community and school food chains. For example, we follow heirloom potatoes with Laughing Crow Farm, study pumpkins and strawberries with Bainbridge Island Farms, and learn the pasture dance with Heyday Farm. I want to give a special shout out to Brian MacWhorter and Butler Green Farms. For the past four years, he has shared public land he leases on Bainbridge Island with EduCulture to serve our edible education programs. These instructional plots are developing into valuable learning centers for local students to, as Brian puts it, “grow healthy minds.”  We are grateful for the generosity and partnership of all our master farmers.

This was the season of the Strawberry for EduCulture. Our Island Heritage Strawberry patch was planted this spring with our partner schools. The June bearing varieties, including Marshalls, Shuksan, Rainiers and Albions fit ideally into the cycle of the school year. During the strawberry days of the 1930’s-50’s, Bainbridge Island Schools released students from classes in May and June to assist Island farmers with the enormous berry harvest (3.5 million pounds from over 700 acres in 1941). Today, we incorporate this edible & heritage education into the school curricula and use these farms as landscapes of learning. During the 1940’s, this Island community was struggling for their American citizenship. Seven decades later, our community is struggling for its sense of food citizenship.

The passing of Frank Kitamoto in March was a tremendous loss for our community. But his legacy looms large in so much good work he inspired, such as our Only What We Can Carry Project. There is a tribute to Frank in the newsletter and on our website.

Some contemplative and professional time this winter helped to confirm a deeper meaning and purpose for why EduCulture has been so dedicated to pushing the boundaries of edible education. I have come to believe it is what we most need to learn at this moment in time. Given the state of our food communities, locally and globally, we need to grow, teach and eat what we most need to learn.  Education needs to stand for something. In the spirit of Mohandas Gandhi, and local heroes like Frank Kitamoto, edible and heritage education should be for the diverse and resilient schools and communities we want to see.

Please take a moment to read our Spring 2014 Newsletter.  (You can find a link on our homepage.)

Here’s to nurturing the scholarship, stewardship, citizenship and sustainability to reclaim our past and seed our future.

Have a Happy and Healthy Summer!

Jon Garfunkel,
Founder and Managing Director

One thought on “Spring Letter from the Director

  1. The Florentines send you warm greetings and a Happy Summer back to you.
    Love reading this letter. It really warms my heart that there are people like you doing good work like this, helping grow those healthy young minds. Bravissimo.

    Big hugs from Sue and Isabella

Leave a Reply