The Edible Schoolyard

From Soil to Table

The Edible Schoolyard is a curriculum that originated in the Pathways collection since the beginning of UMA as a school. Moving forward, it will be a stand-alone program which includes 6th – 12th grade culinary classes. 

The original Edible Schoolyard started in Berkeley California in 1995. Our curriculum is heavily influenced by this program.Through hands-on experience in a real kitchen, students will learn basic kitchen skills and many ways to create a mouthwatering dish that they may never have imagined cooking – and liking! In addition to cooking, students will learn the history of foods, traditions based around food, global foods, how and where our food is grown and the value of understanding food labels and marketing.

Our hydroponic garden was built by Steven Wielenberg, a 2021 graduate, for his Senior Capstone Project. It contains 84 pots for growing plants. Students in all of the culinary classes will take part in tending the growth of the plants and harvesting them for use in class.

The aim for all of the culinary classes is to instill in each student:

  • A sense of curiosity and dignity
  • The ability to work as a team to complete a job well
  • Respect for oneself and others
  • An appreciation for diversity and an ability to learn from difference
  • An understanding of how engaging with the food we eat can teach us, crystallize connections between anyone and anything, and cultivate relationships that make our families and communities resilient.

Outcomes

Below is the scope and sequence of 6th – 9th culinary classes. 10th – 12th grade classes have a different focus.


Values

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.