If there’s one thing that brings people together all over the world, no matter what demographic, it’s food. That’s what the Edible Schoolyard (ESY) believes and why they’ve created this incredible program that they call “edible education”. Their curriculum states:
“The goal of our edible education curriculum is to empower students with the knowledge and values to make food choices that are healthy for them, their communities, and the environment. The lessons are fully integrated into academic subjects and support content standards, Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards. At the same time, they are designed to achieve a specific set of edible education learning goals (which we refer to as ESY standards) and life skills, such as communication, personal and community stewardship, flexibility, and perseverance.”
Basically, ESY has found that every subject can be enriched and enlivened by corresponding the lesson plan with food and the garden. They figure - sure, we educate our kids with pencil and paper, but the way to get kids inspired about their education is touching things and learning by doing. ESY integrates each and every subject in school with the garden, from math and science to politics and history. They have programs and lesson plans that integrate the garden and the kitchen alike to bring excitement and inspiration to their children’s educations.
What are the benefits of an edible education? For one, Head Chef Teacher Esther Cook, notes that on the days kids are scheduled to come to the garden or kitchen, attendance is always perfect. Perfect. Think of that! Additionally, students are taught responsibility when dealing with real tools in the garden and the kitchen, collaboration when working on projects with their classmates, encouragement, sustainability, etc. The list goes on and on, and we could not be more jazzed about sharing ESY with you!
And it gets even better, because ESY’s network extends all across the country, and their website houses tons of lessons plans and instructional videos that you can integrate into your own classroom. Narrow by subject, grade level, resources type, program type, and even season – there’s so much to learn!
For those that do not yet have access to a garden and would like one, The Edible Schoolyard created the Edible Schoolyard Academy in 2009 to start answering teachers’, administrators’, and advocates’ questions from all over the world about how they can create an edible education program in their schools. The Academy is a five day “conference” where 100 guests come to ESY Berkeley (the demonstration garden and learning lab) to see how they can implement the edible education curriculum into their schools.
In 2012, ESY had 600 programs on their network – today, they have 5,000. The program is growing and gaining recognition, and their hope is to one day have a garden and an edible education curriculum in every school throughout the country. What better way to teach kids not only about their health, but about every subject in school than through sustainability and, most importantly, FOOD!