Tag Archives: Edible Schoolyard

UC Berkeley serves up an edible education this fall

Graduate School of Journalism professor Michael Pollan. Photo: Fran Collin
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Tonight marks the return of Edible Education at Cal, with solo instructor Michael Pollan kicking off the 16-week course. The class is open to both undergraduate and graduate students — and, like last year, some 300 free seats are reserved for the public. (See details below for nabbing a ticket to these popular sessions, which typically fill to capacity each week.)

The Graduate School of Journalism professor, and guest speakers from the food and farming world, will examine the future of farming and food and explore how the U.S.’s industrialized food system impacts the environment, health, farm and food workers, as well as the culture at large.

“Food politics are in the forefront of students’ minds these days,” said Pollan, known to tackle wonky food subjects in compelling prose in bestselling books such as “In Defense of Food.” “They like hearing from non-academics — activists, farmers, and journalists.” … Continue reading »

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The Edible Schoolyard Plant Sale: A Berkeley institution

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The Edible Schoolyard’s annual Plant Sale is a Berkeley institution — and/or, as we pointed out on Friday, a little like making a visit to an outdoor Chez Panisse, given Alice Waters’ pivotal role in helping to found and fund the internationally recognized project.

After all, as contributing photographer Nancy Rubin points out, where but in Berkeley might one encounter two teenage girls wolfing down organic greens while running a booth filled with cookies?

The sale, which took place on Saturday at King Middle School, was beautifully captured by Rubin (whom we heartily welcome home from her Moroccan sojourn) — who, for the record, said she munched on both homegrown lettuce and cookies.

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New group with Berkeley roots aims to get kids outside

Garden teacher Tanya Stiller at Rosa Parks Elementary School shares her love of the natural world with students. Photo: Sharon Danks
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Sharon Danks and her colleagues around the world are doing their best to combat so-called nature deficit disorder in today’s children, many of whom are growing up with competing demands such as “screen time,” and other barriers to a romp in the park such as safety concerns or access issues.

Danks, a planner and partner with Bay Tree Design in Berkeley, recently co-founded the global group International School Grounds Alliance to address an increasingly sedentary and risk-averse generation of young ones who, it is feared, are becoming disconnected from their natural environments. Some children, shuttled from school to home to other indoor activities, simply don’t spend much, if any, time in the great outdoors.

The nascent organization, with members in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, want kids to experience the fun and games of outside play. … Continue reading »

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Community seeks life support for school edible programs

The end of salad days for BUSD students? Photos: Rivka Mason
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This week, Berkeley parents and community members rallied to find ways to secure funds to save the gardening and cooking programs at three local elementary schools.

The programs at Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington, whose combined budgets are  $372,000, are threatened because, under existing guidelines, the schools no longer qualify for federal monies as they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program.

At a meeting at Malcolm X on Monday night, about two dozen people representing the three schools and the South Berkeley community hashed out ideas to find money in the short-term — and discussed the bigger-picture concern of making these programs sustainable,  as well as available to all BUSD students over the long haul. … Continue reading »

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New edition of gardening bible for a gardener’s paradise

Photo courtesy of Sunset
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Tonight, at Builders Booksource on Berkeley’s Fourth Street, Kathleen Brenzel will introduce the new, ninth, edition of the “Sunset Western Garden Book“, the iconic gardening bible which is in its 80th year.

Brenzel, Sunset’s Garden Editor, paused on her busy book tour to answer some questions posed by Berkeleyside. Naturally we selected to focus on Berkeley.

What do you think of when you think of Berkeley and gardening?
Diversity. Woodland, meadow, and even tropical gardens thrive here. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school gardening, cooking programs face cuts

Sharing the pleasures of an outdoor table: The delicious revolution at Malcolm X.
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Three of Berkeley Unified School District‘s elementary schools — Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington — are in jeopardy of losing their entire cooking and gardening program funds beginning in October this year.

Under existing guidelines, the schools will no longer qualify for federal funding because they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program, according to Leah Sokolofski, who supervises the program for the district.

Berkeley has an international reputation for its edible schoolyards, where public school children of all economic means learn what it takes to grow a radish and sauté some chard. Such funding cuts to the program, whose total budget is $1.94 million a year, would represent a significant setback in the city’s pioneering efforts to date.

School gardening and cooking champion Alice Waters, whose Chez Panisse Foundation helped fund the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, expressed dismay at the potential budget cuts to programs. “It’s inevitable cuts will come — people think these programs are dispensable and the state of California is in a financial crisis — but it’s a tragedy,” she said. … Continue reading »

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New guide aims to improve school food beyond Berkeley

Food conference
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Regular readers may think that the only person in town doing anything to fix school food in Berkeley and beyond is Alice Waters via her Edible Schoolyard Project.

But that perception would be wrong. Founded in 1995, the Center for Ecoliteracy has also long championed school food reform and channeled funding in the millions to garden programs, cooking classes, and nutrition-based curriculum in Berkeley public schools.

Along with the Chez Panisse Foundation and Berkeley Unified School District, the Center for Ecoliteracy also implemented the School Lunch Initiative, which kickstarted local, seasonal, and sustainable food for students here and connected the classroom and the cafeteria. … Continue reading »

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Alice Waters, Robert Reich talk up a delicious revolution

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It was all very Alice: a fire pit outside, a large screen projecting Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the stage, and, next to her chair, an artfully arranged assortment of fresh-picked fruit delivered to her door by farmer friends.

Alice Waters, a one-time Montessori teacher, wanted to stimulate her students’ senses. So, last Tuesday, that’s how she kicked off her turn to talk at the Edible Education 101 fall lecture series at UC Berkeley, funded by her own Chez Panisse Foundation.

And, in an inspired piece of programming, the woman with a big, broad vision for food reform in schools and beyond, who speaks in a small, wispy way and sometimes appears uncomfortable, even a little lost alone in the spotlight, invited the jovial Cal public policy professor and economics expert Robert Reich to join her on stage for a conversation in front of a close to capacity crowd at Wheeler Hall. … Continue reading »

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Chez Panisse birthday fundraising declared a success

The children say it all at the Berkeley Art Museum party for Chez Panisse. Photo: Christina Diaz
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Now that the hoopla is over, it’s time to take stock of how the Chez Panisse 40th anniversary celebrations fared as a fundraising effort.

Answer: pretty well. The Chez Panisse Foundation had a goal to raise $500,000 for all its 40th birthday activities combined, which it exceeded by a lot, said event producer Carolyn Federman, who didn’t specify exactly how much the private dinners, restaurant parties, and other activities raised.

The money will go to support the recently launched Edible Schoolyard Project (ESYP) website, which has an estimated annual operating cost of about $1.5 million, according to Federman. This new, national nonprofit, building on the work of the Edible Schoolyard locally, intends to serve as a “best practices” resource for kitchen and garden classes in schools across the country looking for ideas, tools, resources, curriculum and community to support their work. Interviews for candidates for the ESYP director position are currently under way. … Continue reading »

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Chez Panisse’s birthday kicks off with party to remember

Alice-Waters-next-to-portrait
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Last night, Alice Waters launched the weekend-long fȇte for the restaurant she founded 40 years ago with a portrait unveiling and a food-inspired procession. Chez Panisse, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and the art and food collective OPENrestaurant held a cocktail party Friday at the U.C. Berkeley Art Museum, where a portrait of Waters bound for The Smithsonian was revealed, marking the opening of several days of celebratory and fundraising activities.

“I just love that this portrait was … Continue reading »

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Local restaurants raise money for edible education

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Potentially lost in the tsunami of stories of all things Chez Panisse this week  — see yesterday’s Berkeleyside Wire and this post today for a fraction of the coverage circulating in anticipation of the 40th anniversary celebrations that start in earnest tonight — is the fact that the weekend long festivities are, at their heart, a series of fundraisers for the newly launched Edible Schoolyard Project, a national hub designed to broaden the reach … Continue reading »

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The frenzy around Chez Panisse’s 40th anniversary

A drawing of Chez Panisse by L. John Harris (He acted as busboy on opening night)
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The next few days in Berkeley will be all about Alice. You know, Alice Waters. Forty years ago, on August 28, 1971, she opened Chez Panisse in a small shingled building  on Shattuck Avenue. The inaugural dinner consisted of pate en croute, duck with olives, salad, and almond torte. The dinner was a few hours late, cobbled together by a number of well-meaning but amateur chefs, but it was good. And fresh. And it started a transformation in California cuisine … Continue reading »

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Fundraising underpins Chez Panisse’s birthday festivities

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Forty years after a young Alice Waters opened what was to become one of the most famous restaurants in the world, the Chez Panisse owner is using the anniversary to focus less on the brown-shingled eatery and more on her mission to see kids eating healthily at school.

With this in mind, the Chez Panisse Foundation is to be renamed the Edible Schoolyard Organization this Fall, so that a program that originated in the shadow of the restaurant is now clearly positioned as where Waters is devoting most of her energies.

That’s not to say that the birthday will not be marked with celebrations, many of them guaranteed to delight the taste-buds. Indeed, Waters and her team have orchestrated a full calendar of events over the long weekend of August 26-30, from large-scale cocktail parties to intimate dinners, from educational classes to creative gatherings.

And graduates from the “university of Alice Waters” will be out in force, as Chez Panisse protegés such as Jean-Pierre Moullé, Sally Clarke, Charlie Hallowell, Russell Moore, Gayle Pirie, and Charlene Reis are put to work whipping up feasts. … Continue reading »

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