Foodie fave brings lessons to school

Posted November 29, 2009 7:26 a.m. EST
Updated December 1, 2009 2:10 p.m. EST

Project Education: Edutopia, a partnership between WRAL-TV and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, explores an outdoor classroom at a middle school in Berkeley, Calif., that serves as the basis for lessons in social studies, math and science.

The "edible schoolyard" is the brainchild of Alice Waters, famed chef and owner of Berkeley's Chez Panisse.

Waters, a pioneer in the organic movement, conceived the garden in 1994 as a way to improve on school lunch programs.

"This is a delicious revolution that we're talking about," she said.

"This isn't hard to do. All of the ideas that I have had about food have proven to be true. That if they grow it, they cook it, they want to eat it," Waters continued.

Sixth graders at Martin Luther King Middle School spend their first period planting, harvesting and eating organic delights.

The garden and its adjacent kitchen provide plenty of learning opportunities.

"Teachers use every little drop of water or dew and every plant and every bed to to teach," said Fritjof Capra, of the Center for Eco-Literacy.

Wet plants yield lessons on the water cycle and condensation.

"It completes a circle for a lot of students who don't know the least little thing about nature and farming, and they get to see that whole cycle," teacher Esther Cook said.

"I think it's almost a sign of the times that we have a program like this to teach things that are so basic that people used to learn at home with their own families," she said.

"The kids have been captivated by this experience, and they don't think that this is school," Waters said. "Yet we know what they're learning, and it's very, very fundamental, important information."

Edible schoolyards are growing in schools in San Francisco, New Orleans and Greensboro.