Thursday, September 30, 2010

UC Berkeley Presents Proof that Edible Schoolyards Works

Photo Source: Katie Standke,

When food enthusiast Alice Waters broke ground and began the Edible Schoolyards (ESY) program in 1997, she embarked on a journey to “create and sustain an organic garden and landscape that is wholly integrated into the school’s curriculum, culture, and food program.”

While the idea of a school garden is right on point with what we hear about today in the push toward making children’s school lunches healthier, this program was one of even fewer of its kind thirteen years ago.

So in the fall of 2005, the University of California at Berkeley began a 3-year study to take a closer look at the program’s results, and its effects on students and their communities. As the study finished in spring of 2009, the results of the UC Berkeley study funded by the Chez Panisse Foundation are now available, and have revealed some very positive results!

The study followed 238 students in the program, and found that after a combination of eating healthy foods at school, learning about gardening and nutrition at school, that their nutrition knowledge, taste for and consumption of fruits and vegetables increased.

The schools of the ESY program offer from-scratch meals in their cafeterias, include gardens in 11 of the 13 district’s participating schools, and give teachers curriculum and lesson plans that incorporate food, culture, health and the environment.

After a good deal of scrutiny, the program has proved that the resulting benefits are real, and can have a great impact on student’s attitudes toward food as they grow into adulthood.

Stories like these are exactly what we at the Organic School Project love to hear!

Check out the program’s website at, and continue to work with us in bringing more programs like this to districts all over the country!

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