Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great Bay Area Garden Tour, part 1 :: The Edible Schoolyard

This summer I decided that I wanted to see some of the school and community gardens in San Francisco and the East Bay. So I got a group of people together from UC Davis and the Davis community, rented some University vans, arranged some private tours, and we were off! (This is far easier said than done, as you can imagine).

On August 24th, 14 of us met on the campus of UC Davis and started our trip. Our first stop was The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley!

This garden was started by Alice Waters in 1994 at Martin Luther King Jr. middle school, and includes an outdoor wood stove and a building with a kitchen where the kids take their garden harvest and learn how to cook it into nutritious foodstuffs!

There were so many gorgeous details about this garden. My favorites were the kid-hand-painted signs in the garden, the gorgeous little greenhouse, and the creative trellising.

This garden has two full-time gardeners and several AmeriCorps volunteers, so an effort of this magnitude is not possible in every school. But it is incredibly inspiring to see what can be done with some funding.

Unfortunately they don't give tours on Saturdays, but we were lucky enough to have a tour guide later in the day who had worked at The Edible Schoolyard for ten years! So we had a post hoc tour and got to ask all of our questions.

One of the coolest things we learned is that the garden design is driven by the kids themselves. Fruit bearing trees are trellised so that the fruit is accessible to small people, or weeping varieties are used. The garden meanders and small vistas and views of different beds open up as you wander through, almost like a small maze. And the garden is constantly changing, with much of the work done by the kids, giving them ownership of the space.

Eeee, it was just as beautiful as I expected it to be! Coming up: The Civic Center Victory Garden, San Francisco.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

That's so awesome! How cool to see that particular garden as Alice Waters is at the forefront of such things! What a go-getter you are to organize such a trip--you've got the stuff!