Teaching Kids Environmentalism with Edible Schoolyards


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By Kristina Anderson
August 20, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA — In our grandparents’ time, it was common for anyone who had a little outdoor space to grow food. This was seen as very practical. In our time however, few of us can say we have ever made a salad from our garden, and many children grow up believing that food comes solely from grocery stores. We have lost the sense of self-sufficiency, and the simple pride that comes from the care and creation of the food we eat. This cultivation of food in a town or city is called “urban agriculture.”

There are those who believe strongly that this process is one we must recapture, or our younger counterparts may feel the disconnect of our current system more acutely than the rest of us.

“Children, no matter what their age, are more inclined to try new food and to experience food that they might not normally try or taste when they see the evolution of say, a piece of kale from seed to table,” says Erika Dimmler, director of the up and coming Edible Schoolyard in Sacramento.

The concept of the Edible Schoolyard Project began sixteen years ago in Berkeley, California. It is a program that uses the process of growing food as a means of educating students.

“I think when you can take some of those classes and integrate a garden component, they certainly can have more of an impact,” says Dimmler.

Dimmler attributes the success of these methods not only to the plants themselves, but to the hands-on approach that they afford. Research on urban agriculture demonstrates that such programs foster improvements in the physical health, mental health, and scholastic performance of involved students.

The new Edible Schoolyard in Sacramento will serve high schools, though similar projects have focused on middle or elementary school students. The program is being championed by Greenwise Joint Venture, a local effort assembled by the mayor of Sacramento that uses the help of community leaders and experts in order to shape a more ecologically sustainable environment and economy for its citizens.

The details of the program’s location and start-date have not yet been finalized, but the residents of Sacramento along with Sierra Club Green Home anxiously await what promises to be a fantastic addition to local education.

For related articles, see:
Los Angeles Youth Plant Seeds of Sustainability and Social Justice 
College Replaces Lawn With Environmental Sanctuary
New Sustainable Gardens Take Root in Japan 

© 2012 SCGH, LLC. All rights reserved.

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