Monday, June 29, 2009

Alice Waters Rocks!

I recently had the pleasure, courtesy of a Mother’s Day gift from Brilliant Daughter, to attend an Omnivore Books event in San Francisco. This special event, featuring Alice Waters and her Edible Schoolyard, was limited to 50 participants and sold out quickly, making us one of the lucky few to hear Alice talk about this wonderful project in such an intimate setting.

The Edible Schoolyard (ESY) is a program that is sponsored by the Chez Panisse Foundation. Located in Berkeley, this one-acre plot is a real-time classroom, teaching middle schoolers everything from soil prep to planting, water systems to pest control, and harvest to marketing. Classroom modules are created around the ESY concept and an adjacent test kitchen allows students to learn how to prepare healthy meals with the produce they have grown.

One of the perks of the event, other than being in the presence of Alice Waters, is the book she has written on this project, aptly named The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea. Meant to inspire and assist others in duplicating all or part of the Berkeley project, the book delves into edible education, sustainable agriculture, and childhood nutrition.

In my next life, I think I might want to be Alice Waters—her calm demeanor, her culinary style, her willingness to give so much of herself. While I certainly am working toward all these things, I have a long, long way to go to match up to this larger-than-life culinary giant.

ALERT: The Edible Schoolyard will be holding a one-day Farmers Market on Wednesday, July 1st from 11:30 – 1 at the corner of Grant and Rose in Berkeley. Students will sell vegetables, flowers, and herbs grown and harvested by their own hand and will give you the opportunity to show your support for the school, the children and urban agriculture.

NOTE: A full-length post on this topic will appear in my “Healthy Cooking” column in July.

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