The Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California (ESY Berkeley) is the Edible Schoolyard Project's demonstration site and learning lab. For 20 years, we’ve worked closely with the school’s teachers and administrators to build a leading model of edible education.
The Edible Schoolyard Berkeley (ESY Berkeley) is a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom for urban public school students at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. This model program for edible education is fully funded by the Edible Schoolyard Project. At ESY Berkeley, students participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce during the academic day and in after-school classes. Students’ hands-on experience in the kitchen and garden fosters a deeper appreciation of how the natural world sustains us and promotes the environmental and social well-being of our school community.
The Edible Schoolyard program is fully integrated into the fabric of the school. Lessons in the kitchen and garden classrooms bring academic subjects to life and cultivate an appetite for fresh, healthy food, as well as the confidence to prepare it at home.
In the spring of 1995, an abandoned lot adjacent to King Middle School was designated as the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley garden site. Landscape architects, chefs, gardeners, and teachers were invited to share their vision of a garden where students would participate in hands-on learning. Twenty years later, the acre of land is lush with seasonal vegetables, herbs, vines, berries, flowers, and fruit trees. Teachers and the garden staff work together to link garden experiences with students’ science and humanities lessons for truly integrated experiential learning.
The Edible Schoolyard Berkeley's kitchen is an experiential learning classroom where students accompany their science and humanities teachers to experience culture, history, language, chemistry, and geography through the preparation of food. Students cook together with produce just harvested from the garden and eat a freshly prepared dish, sharing the fruits of their labor around a communal table. As they harvest, cook, and eat their way through the school year, students experience lessons that support academic learning in the classroom.
An edible education places the child at the center of their learning. Through holistic, inclusive, culturally-responsive pedagogy and practices, students develop skills, knowledge and behaviors that enrich their academic and non-academic lives, bolster their individual, community, and global identities, and cultivate meaningful engagement with their own health, the health of their communities, and the health of the environment. A child-centered theory and practice, edible education engages every context within a child’s learning, from the traditional classroom to the kitchen and garden classrooms, the lunchroom, as well as their home and broader communities.
At ESY Berkeley, we have piloted and tested lessons and best practices for over twenty years. Everything we do or think is posted online for the Edible Schoolyard Network community and shared in our ESY Trainings. We have designed our curriculum of 62 lessons for middle school students to meet the edible education learning goals outlined in the Edible Education Framework. The EE Framework illustrates the breadth and depth of edible education. The goal of the ESY curriculum is to empower students with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to make food choices that are healthy for them, their communities, and the environment.
The curriculum becomes more relevant, engaging, and further supports their classroom achievement by bringing academic subjects to life. In addition to intentional academic connections, the curriculum also develops in students: a sense of curiosity and dignity; the ability to work as a team to complete a job well; respect for oneself and others; an appreciation for diversity; and an understanding of how the ritual of eating together at the table connects families and communities.
See how the framework comes to life:
Kitchen Lesson Libraries:
Garden Lesson Libraries:
Family Nights Out at the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley provide an opportunity for the whole family to experience what students are learning in the kitchen classroom. It’s also a chance for families to meet and connect with others in their school community. During a Family Nights Out class, students and their family members cook and eat a meal together while sharing and learning new recipes and techniques for preparing meals at home.
Family Nights Out classes are designed to be flexible and adaptable, appealing to students, parents, toddlers, and grandparents alike. Learn more about the structure of a typical FNO class.
Each summer, we invite teachers, administrators, and advocates from around the world to train with us. Check out our ESY Trainings page for more information!
We are happy to host private group trainings upon request. Please contact Kyle Cornforth for more information.