The Educational Mission Of A Food Entrepreneur

With students, under an elephant heart plum tree at the Edible Schoolyard Photography by William Abranowicz

With students, under an elephant heart plum tree at the Edible Schoolyard Photography by William Abranowicz

We never tire of listening to Alice Waters or watching for her next move. This article is ostensibly focused on an award from the Wall Street Journal, but we are most interested in the educational component of her work, which closes out the article:

AS THE EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD moves toward its third decade, Waters aims to expand its curriculum into high school programs, like at Edible Sac High, a Sacramento charter high school—housed within the second-oldest high school west of the Mississippi—where Waters’s ideals have been incorporated. It’s an effort Mayor Kevin Johnson says will “radically transform how children view their relationship to food and, by extension, the world around them.” Waters also plans on extending her reach in South America. “The first lady of Chile just came for a visit,” she says, “and governments from that continent seem so willing and so open toward Edible education in a way they aren’t in other places in the world. I’m trying to go through the doors that are open. I have never wanted to push.”

Her other priority is to figure how to fully fund the Edible Schoolyard mother ship in Berkeley in a way that doesn’t solely depend on fund-raising. Characteristically, Waters wants to do this by creating something slowly, by hand—something that people can delight in but that also communicates her values. “Maybe it’s a tortillaria, making organic tortillas,” she says. Then Waters begins to riff, making it clear—like in the moment she conceived the Edible Schoolyard—that she’s hardly capable of thinking small.

“Maybe we could do a tortillaria that would make tortillas for the schools. And maybe this could happen around the country to fund Edible Schoolyards all over. I want to do something where we have a message on the package so they’re hot, they’re wrapped in the news of the day. I want it next to a print shop so we can print the paper, wrap the tortilla and send it out. Kind of like our daily bread, our daily news, something that’s nourishing, something kids love, something that is putting Monsanto out of business.”

When contacted, a Monsanto representative reasoned that the $56 billion global conglomerate and Waters aren’t so dissimilar. “We share with Ms. Waters a common enthusiasm for local and sustainable agriculture because to us, all agriculture is local,” says Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, who works in Monsanto’s public affairs department. “We develop seed varieties that can endure the agricultural challenges farmers face unique to their locale—from the vegetable farmer in California to the small shareholder farmer in the developing world.”

Heading out of the Edible Schoolyard, closing the wrought-iron gate behind her, Waters looks back toward the mulberry tree, pointing out that industrial production could never create a thing with so much grace. “We need to have everyone speaking as loudly and as creatively as they can,” she says, “to turn the world around. And to bring it back to its senses.”

Read the whole article here.

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