Garden Infrastructures & Systems



The physical infrastructure and systems of the Edible Schoolyard garden are designed to enable students to wander and use the space with confidence and freedom. 

Learning experiences in the garden are structured to encourage exploration and student-led discovery. Our garden teachers design lessons to provide opportunities for individual choice, open-ended investigations, risk, and curiosity.

How does a learning environment invite students to practice ownership and independence?   

School gardens of all sizes and stages can benefit from straightforward and intuitive systems that center student experience. We assembled the resources below to put the Edible Schoolyard's infrastructure and systems in context. We hope they inspire reflection and offer adaptable ideas for your own outdoor classroom. 



The Ramada stands at the heart of the garden. Every class opens and closes with the full group gathered in its circle. 

We learned over time that garden experiences are most enriching with a container. They always need a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

Ramada routines provide a reliable class structure that sets students up for success. It is clear what is expected of them and what they can expect from that day’s lesson. This consistency contributes to students' comfort in the outdoor classroom.

In the Ramada, students are held to the same behavioral expectations as in the classroom. We ask for their full engagement with and attention on the facilitator during the opening and closing circles. Outside of these times, students have more autonomy to move and explore.
Deciduous kiwis and annual vines climb up the Ramada’s sides and canopy over the top. Their leaves offer shade in the summer and provide a sense of enclosure and community within the larger garden space.
Like most structures in the garden, students helped design and build the original Ramada.
Our current Ramada is 20 feet in diameter. Benches around the circumference provide more than thirty seats – enough to comfortably fit an entire middle school class, their classroom teacher, the ESY garden team, and volunteers.



We created this collection of videos in 2015. Each one highlights the design and use of major structures in the Edible Schoolyard garden.

Friday, June 24, 2022
Alice Waters, Neil Smith, Esther Cook
A Look at the Founding and Future of the Edible Schoolyard Project

In this session, Edible Schoolyard Project founder Alice Waters, founding Edible Schoolyard principal Neil Smith, and Senior Chef Teacher Esther Cook  share stories from the beginning of the Edible Schoolyard program and offer their vision for the future of edible education.

Friday, June 24, 2022
Chef Liesha Barnett
Program Development with Community Partners

Establishing community partners is one of the keys to creating a dynamic community program. This session explores ways to create programming with community partners whose mission and goals align with yours. Participants learn tips and strategies for how to choose the right partners and build a stronger, more unified community.

Thursday, June 23, 2022
Griselda Cooney, Patricia Mok
Family Engagement and Cooking Demonstration

In this session, participants learn approaches and strategies for involving families in edible education. Chef teachers Griselda Cooney and Patricia Mok share an overview of ESYP's family engagement programming and provide a cooking class demonstration based on our Family Nights Out events.

Thursday, June 23, 2022
Esther Cook
Food Memories

While applying the lifelong learning skill of reflection, participants will contemplate the undeniable power of food to indelibly connect us to a person, place, or time. This session, led by Senior Chef Teacher Esther Cook, is for anyone interested in examining the role food plays in their life.

Thursday, June 23, 2022
Raquel Vigil and Rachel Mewes
An Introduction to Student Engagement in Edible Education

This session explores a new resource titled Student Engagement in Edible Education: A Workbook for Teachers. In this training, participants learn about the three pillars of student engagement and explore resources from the workbook.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Kirsten Strobel, Aaron Ojalvo
Making the Ask: Effective Fundraising Strategies for your Kitchen and Garden Classroom

This fundraising session dives into the structure and tactics of the donor giving cycle, primarily focusing on individual giving and corporate partnership strategies. The workshop provides participants with an opportunity and inspiration to begin formulating their own donor engagement plan. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Esther Cook, Griselda Cooney, Taís Reis, Patricia Mok
Exploring Kitchen Classroom Systems and Structures

This session explores the systems and routines of the Edible Schoolyard kitchen classroom. Participants are led through a virtual tour of our kitchen classroom and then reflect on how their own cooking program can promote accessibility, inclusivity, and safety.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Tamika Whitenack, Jason Uribe, Sophia Fox
Exploring Garden Systems and Structures

In this session, participants gain insight into the physical space and garden infrastructure of the ESY garden. Participants are guided through a photo journey that showcases key areas of the ESY garden and how we use these with students. Participants are invited to consider how the core values behind the ESY garden can inform their own work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Jack Algiere
Regenerative Farming Practices

In this session, Stone Barns Center Director of Agroecology Jack Algiere shares an overview of regenerative farming practices that educators can apply in their school gardens.

Visit the Stone Barns Center’s website at

Books and authors that Jack recommends include:

  • “New Organic Grower” by Eliot Coleman
  • “Teeming with Microbes” by Jeff Lowenfels
  • “Regeneration” by Paul Hawkins
  • “Building soil for better crops” Fred Magdoff and Harold Van Es
  • Alan Chadwick and the UCSC Farm
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Alice Waters, Nick Lee, Russell Sterten
2022 Virtual Summer Training Opening Session

In this opening session, Edible Schoolyard Project founder Alice Waters shares remarks on the importance of edible education. Then, Program Director Nick Lee and Community Manager Russell Sterten lead participants in reflecting on their inspiration and motivation for teaching with food.



How students experience the garden is guided and supported by visual aids. These signs make the garden a more accessible place and are essential for teaching to a range of learning styles.

Providing opportunities for each student to read is also be a great way increasing the use of academic language in the garden. 

Whiteboards and chalkboards often hang in the Ramada, featuring the question of the day, words of the week, sentence structure, or conversation prompts.



The Edible Schoolyard emphasizes four main skills as the foundation for maintaining a healthy garden. Every class incorporates jobs that appeal to the diverse interests and energy levels of our students.

Garden teachers offer students a choice about what tasks they work on and what tools they use. Lessons are also designed to encourage students to make learning choices as they explore and apply topics in the garden. 

Giving students the opportunity to make choices establishes mutual trust, builds engagement, and develops students’ awareness of their interests and needs.


Propagation in the greenhouse.