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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Feeding Kids from Berkeley to New Orleans: Edible Schoolyard and Blue Bottle Coffee

The Edible Schoolyard has been one of the most visible sustainable food projects of our time. Surprisingly controversial -- Is it really elitist to feed good food to public school children? -- there is no denying that Alice Waters' Delicious Revolution is made manifest in Berkeley's educational system. As models go, it has its proponents and detractors. As it spreads to less affluent school districts, though, the benefits cannot be denied. The version in New Orleans is part of a vital and successful charter school.
It may be too late for you to attend July's summer academy, but while you plan ahead for next year's workshops hosted by the Chez Panisse Foundation, consider some ways you can support these programs today: Certainly if you find yourself in Northern California or New Orleans, incorporate a visit to the gardens, a few hours volunteering weeding, a summer internship, or a charitable donation. The latter can be earmarked to offset costs for teachers who want to participate. Graduates of the Academy gain tools for teaching Edible Education, which is supposed to be an integrated approach to working with kids in the kitchen, schools, lunchrooms, and gardens. Teachers, gardening experts, farm-to-table advocates, and greenhouse educators gain hands-on wisdom about what works with school-age kids.

Check to see if you have a program already in the works at your local school -- greenhouses are a new hot item being funded by Slow Food and PTOs across the USA. The Academy isn't expensive and it provides graduates with both a perfect farm-to-table pedigree and unbeatable skills, but since it is in Berkeley, the Foundation is always grateful for donations to help offset costs. One great way to get ready is to consider sponsoring a team of teachers in your local school district. Or, better yet, purchase a set of Chez Panisse books on schoolyard gardening, cooking with kids, and sustainable lunchrooms to donate to your favorite academic institution. Best textbook title ever: "Making Mathematics Delicious."

And the most delicious way to help out: From the Blue Bottle Coffee Company, order a New Orleans iced coffee concentrate kit so that 10% of your purchase will help fund another Chez Panisse Foundation project, the Edible Schoolyard of New Orleans (ESYNOLA). Recently a guest blogger on the Accidental Hedonist expounded on the best way to enjoy the coffee concentrate, so read up, order yourself some NOLA in a bag, sit back, caffeinate yourself, and think about good garden math.

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