The Edible Schoolyard Project
TOG’s flagship urban agriculture project, The Edible Gardens at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo, was largely inspired and informed by Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA – the idea for a common space for children and families to learn about where their food comes from and how to grow it themselves. Alice visited The Edible Gardens in 2008, and since then, we’ve maintained a strong connection rooted in our likeminded visions for the future of food. TOG’s involvement with edible school garden projects has grown significantly since that 2008 visit, and now comprises a major portion of the garden work we do. Today, as a proud part of the Edible Schoolyard Network, we recognize the transformative power of the school gardens we’ve built in our own communities, and we’re consistently inspired by the momentum of this movement.
As founder of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse Restaurant, Alice Waters had been a long time champion of sharing local, organic, sustainably grown food. In 1995, Alice was inspired to embark on a new kind of project with a neglected plot at nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. Working closely with the school community, Alice transformed the acre of land into an edible garden and teaching kitchen, establishing The Edible Schoolyard.
From that original Berkeley garden grew the Edible Schoolyard Network. Alice’s vision has translated into a national movement that seeks to integrate edible education into every school’s curriculum and infrastructure, using food as a tool to engage and empower youth. The ESY Network supports the creation, growth, and enrichment of this field, providing a model of the program and a collection of resources and best practices for schools interested in getting involved.
Each June, Alice and her network also host the ESY Academy to train leading educators to create this type of programming in their own schools and communities. In 2015, three of our own garden educators traveled from Chicago to Berkeley to partake in the conference – check out a slideshow of photos from their trip below.