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Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea Review

Must Read: Edible Schoolyard — A Universal Idea

Alice Waters has been making waves in the food industry lately, so many that she's appearing on 60 Minutes this Sunday. Along with other prominent foodies, she's strongly urging President Obama to promote local, sustainable eating by petitioning for a White House garden.

To solve the country's obesity crisis, Waters believes, we should plant more gardens, and not just any garden, but schoolyard gardens. If you can teach a child to grow fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables, you'll awaken their senses and teach new skills. Essentially, it will change the way they think about themselves, food, and the world.

This is the concept that Waters eloquently presents in Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea ($24.95). The book describes the history of the garden Waters created at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, in Berkeley CA. To find out what I thought of it,



  • The story is truly inspiring and empowering. After reading it, I wanted to run out and plant a garden. I especially enjoyed when Waters describes how the garden has changed and affected the children.
  • It's very easy to read: her tone is encouraging, clear, and concise. Although the text is 43 pages, I finished the book in an hour.
  • It's a beautifully thought-out book with lots of colorful images.


  • The very few recipes are written in paragraph form without listing ingredients, making them hard to follow.
  • While I love the idea of putting a garden in every school in America, I don't know how realistic it is. When Waters created the garden in Berkeley, CA, she was joined by tons of volunteers. Local farmers donated crops and the city supported her. To achieve this on a mainstream level, Waters would need the support of every American.

Recipes: The focus of this book is clearly the message and the recipes are an afterthought. Most of them sound delicious and are easy enough that a child could make them. Here are a few that sound appetizing:

  • Cucumber-lime cooler
  • Bread salad
  • Potato smash with kale

Imagery: Without the imagery, this book would be nothing. It's filled with large, colorful pictures of smiling kids working in the garden. There are also pictures that illustrate the process Waters went through when transforming the asphalt schoolyard into an edible one. My favorite is of two boys holding chickens.

Overall Rating: If you have children and care passionately about the nation's education system, I highly recommend checking it out.





aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Neat idea!
marie-lee marie-lee 8 years
Sounds similar to a book by Stephanie Alexander...she has a kitchen garden foundation operating in Australia and was involved in starting a kitchen garden in Collingwood College in 2001.
Geminispoppy Geminispoppy 8 years
Its an awesome idea, one that my mom had been doing for at least a decade before waters...
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Rachael Ray had a teacher come onto her show who does something like this for her students. It's a really neat idea and if I were a teacher, I'd probably do something like that with my students as well. Keeping a vegetable garden is one adult skill that I think everyone should learn.
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
I agree with her idea 1000%.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
I think it's a wondeful idea. A garden not only helps promote healthy lifestyle and physical activity by tending to it, cleaning and harvesting, but it gets the kids to know where the good food comes from (and not some fast food joint).
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
I recall reading about a metro school that does this. The kids compost their leftovers from lunch, plant the garden, tend to it, and harvest the produce which is prepared for future school lunches. Great lessons!
emalove emalove 8 years
As a teacher myself, I think it's a great idea! Kids would love this!
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