Earlier this month, I (our Farm-to-Kids program coordinator and educator, Anna Marie) had the pleasure of attending the 2023 Edible Schoolyard Summer Training. The Edible Schoolyard is a renowned kitchen and garden education program based at public middle school in Berkeley, California. Started in 1995 by chef Alice Waters, ESY has inspired many programs across the country to join in a “delicious revolution” of our food system beginning with youth education.
Over the course of three days, I joined about 50 other training participants in workshops and skill shares covering everything from developing standards-aligned kitchen curriculum, to how to teach culinary knife skills to middle schoolers, to how to approach edible education without food shaming. Throughout the training, the Edible Schoolyard’s care-centered teaching philosophy was evident in every detail. One idea in particular introduced at the beginning of the training still resonates with me: beauty is the language of care. Whether it was the classroom tables set with fresh flowers or the welcome packet adorned with a hand illustrated map of the school grounds (not to mention the gorgeous and abundant school garden site we were in!), there was beauty to be found at every turn. I can’t wait to bring this insight to my students in the Fall: the time and effort we put into making our food delicious and beautiful is one of the ways we can show care for ourselves, each other, our communities, and the earth. Care is at the heart of a vibrant local food system.
ESY’s spectacular staff encouraged learning and community building by modeling engagement strategies that they use in a typical Edible Schoolyard classroom. In every workshop session, we were presented with several chances to reflect and explore the content we were learning through journal prompts or small group sharing. We even had the chance to be students as a kitchen classroom teacher delivered a lesson as they would for their sixth-grade students– it was a wonderful reminder of the assumptions I have when teaching cooking skills and a challenge to think like a student. Not only were these engaging, hands-on learning opportunities formative to my teaching practices, they were fun! So rarely do we get the chance to explore new ideas and new places with other folks whose work is so aligned with our own.
Questions still remain on how to make our Farm-to-Kids Texas program as robust and sustainable as the Edible Schoolyard, but I feel fortified and inspired to know just how many educators—from school garden specialists, to classroom teachers, to farmers market program managers—are hard at work across the country to cultivate the next generation of our food system.
Texas Center for Local Food extends our gratitude to the Edible Schoolyard for awarding our educator Anna Marie Rosenlieb with a full scholarship to the training; we are thrilled for all the ways this training will enrich our Farm-to-Kids Texas program. If you are an educator of any variety, we highly recommend enrolling in Edible Schoolyard’s free (!) Virtual Summer Training happening in July.