The Edible Schoolyard

From Soil to Table

Through hands-on experience in a real kitchen, students learn where food comes from, the history of ingredients, how to prepare wholesome and healthy dishes, and gain appreciation for ALL food groups — including obscure vegetables they never thought they would eat!

Our culinary curriculum focuses on sustainability and encourages learning which is both essential and relevant for contribution in today’s global economy.

Adapted from The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley, CA.


Our Pathway curriculum sets UMA apart from traditional school curriculum, and aims to provide a more relevant and approachable way for students to learn. The following learning objectives represent the outcomes we hope students take away from this curriculum.

  • Food is an Academic Subject

    A school garden, kitchen and dining facility are integral to the core academic mission of the school, so that ecology and gastronomy help bring alive every subject, from reading and writing to science and art.

  • School Supports Farms

    When available, the culinary classroom will use seasonally fresh food from local, sustainable farms and ranches, not only for reasons of health and education, but as a way of strengthening local food economies.

  • Children Learn by Doing

    Hands-on education, in which children do the work in the vegetable beds and on the cutting boards, awakens their senses and opens their minds, both to their core academic subjects and to the world around them.

  • Beauty is a Language

    A beautifully prepared environment, where deliberate thought has gone into everything from garden paths to the plates on the table, communicates to children that we care about them.


UMA strives to guide students in realizing their own values and formulating their own understanding of global interconnectedness. The following themes represent the values we hope students build on through engaging in this curriculum.

Water: Students recognize water as a precious resource and intrinsic to the sustenance of all living organisms. Students explore methods of water conservation at the UMA campus as well as understand how these concepts apply to their everyday lives.

Bio-Diversity: At UMA we are mindful of bio-diversity as it pertains to the ecology of the garden, the historical significance and development of our campus, and within our student body. Students explore the garden as an ecosystem and understand that embracing and preserving diversity builds a strong, healthy, and resilient earth.

Soil: Students understand that our topsoil is the lifeblood and fertility of the garden. Because soil is alive and diverse, students are committed to its cultivation and preservation.

Pollination: Students recognize the garden as a habitat for pollinators and understand their impact on our food supply. Students cultivate a respect for insects by developing appropriate responses and consideration when encountering these inhabitants in the garden.

Ritual and Intention: Students practice the act of eating together by gathering around the table and sharing food and conversation. Students extend these practices into home and community settings. Students approach tasks in the garden and the kitchen with deliberate thought and attentions. By proceeding with a sense of purpose, students develop an appreciation and learn by doing.

Unity: Students create an atmosphere of cooperation. By welcoming the ideas and contributions of others, students seek to elevate the experience of all by offering and receiving encouragement and direction.

Seasonality: Students practice an understanding of seasonality as they learn to anticipate, enjoy, and savor foods at their peak of flavor and ripeness. Students understand that locally sourced foods are good choices for optimum freshness, the support of their local economy, and a low carbon footprint.

Gifting: Students understand and practice a culture of “gifting” from the garden and the kitchen to each other, their families, and their community.

Confidence: The Edible Schoolyard at UMA strives to create an engaging and stimulating environment where students can explore their strengths, foster new interests, and build their competencies in the kitchen, the garden, the academic classroom, and in life in general.

Observation and Awareness: The garden and kitchen provide opportunities for exploration, investigation and inquisitive learning. Working together in the garden and kitchen encourages students to utilize their inherent curiosity about the natural world. Students learn to observe patterns and connections and understand cause and effect.

Beauty: Beauty delivers a message of both optimism and expectation to students about the world around them. As students contribute to the garden and the kitchen, they take ownership in creating a beautiful environment. Students notice and appreciate the beauty surrounding them in the gardens, the kitchen, and on the UMA campus. Beauty opens the mind by awakening and pleasing the senses, and in the practice of “gifting”; creating something beautiful communicates care and value to the individual and those around him/her.

Interconnectedness: Participating in the production of food from seed to table allows students to see the kitchen and garden as inextricably linked. As students become an integral part of the garden and kitchen culture with their peers, they begin to see themselves as part of a larger community – as active agents in a complex ecological web. They become a part of the Edible Schoolyard community held together by threads of experiences, memories, and the hard work of students, their families, and community supporters.