Seven Founding Edible Schoolyard (FESY) programs, hosted by Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, gathered in November 2019 to celebrate the successful expansion of Chef Alice Waters’ edible education model created in 1994 in Berkeley, California. The New Orleans convening included two full days of workshops, classroom tours, and convivial cocktail discussions in FirstLine Schools gardens and local farm to table restaurants. Funded by the Robert & Toni Bader Charitable Foundation, this gathering is the first of two organized by Waters’ flagship program, The Edible Schoolyard Project. The second will take place in 2020.
Founded in 2006 as Waters’ first formal replication of comprehensive garden and culinary education, Edible Schoolyard New Orleans (ESYNOLA) hosted leadership and program staff from:
- Edible Schoolyard Berkeley
- Edible Schoolyard New York City
- Edible Schoolyard Larchmont
- Edible Schoolyard Greensboro
- Edible Schoolyard Kern County
- North Country School & Camp Treetops
Each FESY program is a pioneer and innovator in certain aspects of edible education, whether that be growing techniques in cold climates, the implementation of revolutionary lunch service, or how to offer agricultural experiences in the heart of a food desert. At the FESY convening this year, ESYNOLA showcased our area of focus, Social and Emotional Learning, with a Green Charter kitchen class observation and talk by garden educators Zach O’Donnell and Jahmal Hurst, and FirstLine Director of Social and Emotional Learning, Kerrie Partridge. Our staff members also co-led strategic discussions on fundraising and sustainability, and curriculum.
Convenings are powerful vehicles for sharing knowledge, building trusting relationships, and laying the groundwork for collective action. Formalizing a working coalition of edible schoolyard programs has already led to sharing best practices in program evaluation, fundraising, and curriculum. The success of the other FESY programs and the thousands of other garden and culinary education programs across the country, have proven that edible education is effective across and adaptable to a range of cultures, climates, and organizational and funding models.
The discussions started this November will lead to years of cross-country collaboration through committees for stewardship, program evaluation, and shared impact. Using these FESY convenings as a springboard, we are eager to think about who else could be included in a national conversation about the edible education movement, and what impact we can have as a collective.