October 5, 2007
Even though her new book (The Art of Simple Food) did just come out this past Tues., Alice Waters really came to Chicago, Ill., to meet with Mayor Richard M. Daley to discuss opening up Edible Schoolyard programs in Chicago.
The two met on Tues., and Mayor Daley agreed to open up six of the projects, according to Waters’ reference to her conversation with Daley. “We’ll see if he sticks to his word,” Waters said. She announced the news to fans and supporters of the project who attended her book signing event at Prairie Grass Cafe on Wed.
“It’s so nice to have such a benevolent dictatorship here,” said Waters in regards to Mayor Daley. She was thrilled that he agreed to start up the projects here. Chicago is now the third city to agree to an Edible Schoolyard project, following the pioneer program in Berkeley, Calif., and its sister project in New Orleans.
Waters chose Chicago because of its culinary influence and accessibility to organic and sustainable foods. She endorses the Green City Market, the most widely recognized farmer’s market in the city of Chicago, and recognizes that it’s a truly organic and sustainable operation.
“We have everything going for us,” Waters said. “We just need to have the leadership and the money to make it happen.” And Waters recognizes that starting up one of these programs can be expensive. According to Waters, maintaining just one of these Edible Schoolyards in Berkeley, Calif., cost $450,000 a year to keep up the garden and kitchen.
The Edible Schoolyard projects are geared toward helping children eat better. “We have found that if they grow it and pick it, they eat it,” Waters said while explaining her efforts. The cafeteria becomes a lab of gastronomy, and children can recognize the connections between what they eat and where their food is coming from.
The pilot program in Berkeley, Calif., runs the program for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. With each year, the amount of time spent in the garden classroom actually decreases, since the emphasis is placed on the younger students. Sixth graders spend two nine-week blocks per year in the garden classroom, while eighth graders only spend two three-week blocks.
At the book signing event, Waters quotes Ghandi in saying “We have to be the change we wish to see in the world.” And that’s what Edible Schoolyard is all about; changing the future by starting at its very root – the children.
-Hillary, reminding you that you read it first at Chew on That