Common Ground

Common Ground

Thu 23 Jan 2014

Story by Erin Scott

If you were to walk out my front door, turn left, pass our little local library, continue up a quite side street and peer down a dead end lane, you’d see a latticed iron fence at the end of the road. Open the gate and you’d find robust chickens nestling into the compost pile in search of worms, a Meyer lemon tree bursting with ripe fruit, rows of greens sprouting from the earth, and kids, plenty of kids walking through this amazing, lush one acre garden that’s theirs.

Alice Waters’ original Edible Schoolyard happens to reside at our neighborhood public (free) middle school, and my thirteen year old son Otis is lucky to go there. While MLK Jr Middle School has nearly 1,000 students from a full spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds - all the kids find common ground in their classes at the Edible Schoolyard. When you ask King kids about ESY, they beam with pride. One might talk about the amaranth she harvested from the garden that week, or another will tell you about the delicious veggie stir fry he learned to cook in kitchen.

American adolescents are consumed by a need to be cool, rebellious, maybe even a little snarky (you parents out there know what I mean). But if you were to peek in on a class in the Garden or Kitchen, you’d find that all those angsty pretenses fade away as the kids chop, dig, rake, weed, sauté, plant, harvest, cook and eat together.

As part of his Big Rig Tour, Jamie Oliver visited the Edible Schoolyard for the first time a few weeks ago and met with Alice Waters, discussing the deep needs we face around kids, education and food. (I was there that morning, taking photos for ESY.) Watching two of my food heroes wandering through this idyllic school garden together, happily chatting with the kids, and sharing steamy bowls of Ghanian Black-Eyed Peas cooked by the students that morning, I witnessed the full working potential of what food activism can accomplish.

It may be a radical, impractical, impossible dream...but I yearn for all kids to have a schoolyard like this to call their own. Every child deserves it.

About the author: Erin Scott - the voice behind Yummy Supper - is an unabashed home cook, voracious eater, and lifestyle photographer, and mother of two. Erin’s first cookbook, Yummy Supper: 100 fresh, luscious, & honest recipes from a {gluten-free} omnivore will be published by Rodale Books this August.


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