Grimmway Schools Edible Schoolyards
Our mission at Grimmway Academy Edible Schoolyard is to create and sustain an organic garden and learning kitchen that is integrated into the school’s curriculum and culture. We also want to encourage children to discover and develop a healthy relationship with the food they eat. Modeled after the pioneering work of Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley and the Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard in Bakersfield, we have wholly integrated an organic garden and kitchen classroom into the culture and campus of Grimmway Academy, a charter school in the rural town of Arvin, CA. We serve a primarily hispanic community and currently have 680 students enrolled in our school.
At Grimmway Academy, all students Kinder through 6th grade attend the Edible Schoolyard Program in twelve, 90-minute lessons in each space. Since the garden and kitchen are located on school grounds, they truly function as regular classrooms with the same level of behavior and academic expectations. This allows for our students to delve deeper into subject material, experience the garden in every season, use a wider variety of seasonal ingredients in kitchen class, and see the ESY as an integral part of their school culture. Concepts of sustainable and ecological agriculture are demonstrated to students through active class participation in caring for the soil, practice of companion planting, resourceful irrigation strategies, and proper harvesting techniques. The students love bringing fresh garden produce into their kitchen for use in the upcoming lesson, where they are instructed on the importance of eating seasonally, flavoring foods with herbs and spices, and practicing fundamental knife skills. We added Middle School this year to Grimmway Academt, and now our older students are able to enjoy the Edible Schoolyard through Friday Elective Classes (6th and 7th grade, next year we will add 8th grade). Our program values are: environment stewardship, seasonality, personal expression, active learning, collaboration and cooperation and nourishment of self, family and community.
Our Edible Schoolyard teachers enjoy working with the staff at GA Café (cafeteria staff) to serve recipes and ingredients that students have prepared in a previous kitchen lesson or have harvested in garden class. It is always a joy to see Grimmway Academy students express enthusiasm upon recognition of ESY recipes at the salad bar, as well as, pure enjoyment when tasting the foods. This campus-wide commitment to wellness and healthy eating, paired with hands-on experiences at the Edible Schoolyard, provides daily nourishment and educational enrichment for our students. We are excited to be a part of the meaningful work of connecting students’ health to their academic achievements.