Edible Schoolyard Academy 2013

Edible Schoolyard Academy 2013

Mon 25 Feb 2013

Story by Kyle Cornforth

This article is reposted with permission from the Edible Schoolyard Project.

I met with a young professional this morning who had asked me if I could take some time to share what I know about the movement for garden-based education. He is hoping to move into the field and wondering what types of opportunities for professional growth and leadership might be available to him. After we talked about what drew him into the work, why he was interested in it, and what kind of jobs he was looking for, he asked me what the standard training requirements for a job as an educator or administrator in a garden-based nutrition program are.

We discussed the different skills that are required to be successful in a position as a Garden Coordinator or Chef Teacher: farming and cooking abilities, being effective as an educator in a non-traditional classroom setting, understanding connections in the garden and kitchen across many grades and disciplines, balancing teaching responsibilities with a range of administrative tasks, cultivating buy-in from administrators, teachers, parents, and the wider community, coordinating and implementing class scheduling, managing the outreach, training, and retention of volunteers, evaluating program efficacy, creating successful partnerships for fundraising and resource acquisition, writing effective grants, and communicating with diverse stakeholders. In other words, these jobs are big and require people who are flexible, passionate, focused, and who can think quickly on their feet.

It was exciting for me to share with him that we have distilled what we have learned over 17 years of programming at the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley into a 4½ day professional development and training program, designed for edible educators who are looking to learn how to weave all of these skill sets into their daily work to make their programs more dynamic, more proficient, and more efficient. The Academy at the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley will be held this year from Sunday, June 23 – Thursday, June 27. The training is designed to help emerging programs take their work to the next level.

Each day of the training focuses on one key element of an integrated approach to garden and kitchen education. The garden day offers insight into important infrastructure and systems, basic routines and rituals for outdoor-classroom management, hands-on lessons and activities that can be implemented immediately, training from a world-renowned garden expert on plant families and gardening basics, and strategies for assessing a garden class. The kitchen day covers how to write a recipe for the classroom, what the most important and basic tools and equipment are for a kitchen set-up, how to teach cooking without a kitchen classroom, how to integrate aesthetics into an educational practice, and also incorporates a hands-on cooking class. The program development and administration day provides an overview of how we manage volunteers, how we facilitate staff meetings and communication, how we plan events, tips for creating an evening program for families, how to evaluate program efficacy, hands-on nutrition lessons for the classroom, and a session on how to build an effective fundraising strategy.

This year we are adding an additional day of programming. Participants will have more time to network with each other at our evening program and speaker event and they will also have the opportunity to visit two other edible education programs to learn about scaling up and scaling down for grade levels and infrastructure. Local garden leaders will share their expertise from 15 years of programming in Berkeley Unified School District.

The Edible Schoolyard staff looks forward to the Academy each year. It gives us a chance to meet like-minded professionals, hear success stories and challenges from around the world, and bring to life the growing network of edible educators from our online community. Applications are available online now. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

About Kyle Cornforth: Kyle has worked with educational food programs for 14 years in a variety of capacities; as an AmeriCorps member, garden and chef teacher, parent, program coordinator and director. She is currently the Director of The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley. She leads a staff of 10, and in the past year have initiated the development and publication of new garden and kitchen lessons, hands on kitchen lessons for King School parents, and growing the Edible Schoolyard Academy from 2 to 3 days.


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