Everywhere you look; there are comments and criticisms regarding the performance of our nation’s schools. Some people blame the parents, some blame the teachers, while still others want to lay the blame on the way that we evaluate the students and/or the teachers. So let’s all take a deep breath, and look at some really entertaining things that are going on in some schools and take a lighter look at the issue.
One thing that seems to be emerging in schools across the country is the desire to make the operations greener, so lets’s take that a step further and look at a truly remarkable program that is coming to Sacramento, California and hopefully on its way to a school district near you.
We live in a time when people are starting to truly ask questions about their personal impact on our planet. They are concerned about how fast we are using up our resources, about the sustainability of the world’s food supply, about the quality of the food that we produce and the subsequent result it might be having on our nation’s children. If you are not aware of the recent concerns about childhood obesity in this country, then welcome you back to this part of the galaxy. Seriously, many people are starting to look for answers and solutions to these issues, and one woman has managed to start the ball rolling and in the process begun the second revolution she can call her own.
Her name is Alice Waters, and as the owner of Chez Pannise in Berkley, CA she managed to start her first revolution by teaching us all how to make great food, by hand, using locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. She has led the way for chefs all over the country to begin sourcing locally grown and sustainable ingredients in order to create truly regional and local specialties based on what grows nearby. She is coming to Sacramento to begin a program for schools called the “Edible Schoolyard.”
This program will provide for the development of a sustainable garden to be located at a local high school. The students will plant the garden, maintain it, and harvest the bounty from it and (best of all) prepare dishes using those harvested ingredients. They will be taught to cut up the ingredients (no processing) prepare them and eat them, and actually be responsible for cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. Maybe preparing your own vegetables might actually make it easier for kids to eat them?
It appears to be an outstanding program and we can all hope that it spreads like wildfire throughout the state and the rest of the nation for many reasons. One valuable addition to the program that can help it be even more sustainable is offered here: Instead of serving the food on a plastic lunch tray, why don’t we serve it on a biodegradable lunch tray that is compostable?
The one thing that every garden needs is compost. Compost will help the plants thrive and consume less water. The disposable trays and other pieces of disposable tableware can all be made from sustainable and annually renewable materials like sugar cane and bamboo so that they can be composted right there in the garden by the students and used to grow more vegetables and in the process, teach them another very valuable science lesson.
It is a 360 degree solution for trash that would otherwise be sent off to a local landfill. Now it serves to feed the plants that feed our kids and lowers the trash bill for the school district. Seems like a nice addition to a terrific program.