Cooking with Love at the Edible Schoolyard Project

Every item in the ESY kitchen classroom is intentional. The space exudes love, beauty and acceptance.  Anyone who enters immediately feels a sense of belonging. 

Every item in the ESY kitchen classroom is intentional. The space exudes love, beauty and acceptance.  Anyone who enters immediately feels a sense of belonging. 

When an environment is beautiful it invites beauty. This is a real phenomena. We experienced it.

As Academy Participants at ESY, we were invited into the beauty of the kitchen classroom and all of the magic it has to offer.  Unlike the garden, this space is orderly.  Everything has its place and there is a system for using and caring for everything in it, including each other and yourself. There are no curvy walkways to get lost in, or hidden spaces to explore.  Yet, the space invites the same sense of adventure and creativity as the wildness of the ESY garden.

We experienced how the thoughtful organization of the ESY kitchen creates safety and structure, requiring students to practice mindfulness and self-regulation in order to participate in the rituals and learning opportunities being offered.

Kitchen tools are well labeled and systems for using and caring for the space make sense.  

Kitchen tools are well labeled and systems for using and caring for the space make sense.  

In this space, students learn about people and cultures from around the world.  They learn about history, mechanical innovations, and geography.  They learn math, science, language, and health.  

 

Molly, ESY Chef Teacher, walks us through the Silk Road class series, a 6th grade humanities lesson.

Molly, ESY Chef Teacher, walks us through the Silk Road class series, a 6th grade humanities lesson.

All handouts, posters, recipes and instructions are written by hand - creating an aesthetic that is beautiful to look at, and draws the participant in, as it is a deviation from the text-type print of the screens and devices we are so often plugged into. 

All handouts, posters, recipes and instructions are written by hand - creating an aesthetic that is beautiful to look at, and draws the participant in, as it is a deviation from the text-type print of the screens and devices we are so often plugged into. 

ALL of this amazing academic stuff happens AND, most importantly, in this space students feel seen and heard.  The kitchen culture is essential to the success of the ESY kitchen classroom experience.  How students feel when they are in the kitchen is as important as the academic standards they are learning there. ESY kitchen teachers create the love-infused kitchen culture by ensuring every piece of curriculum they create meets academic standards, as well as the cultural and equity goals intended by the lesson.

In the ESY kitchen classroom, students learn to participate in the important ritual of feeding themselves and their community healthy, nurturing foods. They use real tools, like sharp knives and hot stoves, to produce real food, like vegetable fried rice and polenta with pepper and tomato sauce, that require them to practice really important every day, life skills like communication, collaboration, planning, and resourcefulness.   In this space all students feel like their contributions matter.

Step 1: The ingredients

Step 1: The ingredients

Step 2: Students work together to prepare the vegetables for the recipe.  

Step 2: Students work together to prepare the vegetables for the recipe.  

Step 3: Students work together to cook the recipe. 

Step 3: Students work together to cook the recipe. 

Step 4: While some students cook, others prepare the table.  When the food is ready, everyone sits and eats together.  Chef Teachers take time to facilitate reflection and conversation while they eat.  Then, everyone works together to clean up.

Step 4: While some students cook, others prepare the table.  When the food is ready, everyone sits and eats together.  Chef Teachers take time to facilitate reflection and conversation while they eat.  Then, everyone works together to clean up.

I came to the ESY Academy quite sure that edible education can and should be an integral part of every child's experience, but I am now absolutely convinced.  Edible Education has the potential to breathe heart and soul into our schools and to change all of our lives in amazing and powerful ways.  

As Fund For Teachers Fellows, Carrie and I have committed to applying what we have learned this summer, through practice and process.  Time and again, we looked at one another with excitement and clarity--implementing Edible Education practices at Evergreen will not be hard to do.  We are already doing so much of this good work. What we have taken away from the ESY Academy is the inspiration and encouragement to dig deeper and cultivate more of it, more often, in academic and social lives of this community.  

Together, all things are possible.

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