The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Edible schoolyard teaches children about health, local food

Digging their shovels into the dirt, four Greensboro children may not have understood the historical significance of their actions. On Sept. 24, The Greensboro Children’s Museum broke ground on “The Edible Schoolyard,” making health and wellness a cornerstone of visitors’ experience.

Standing with elected officials, author and advocate Alice Waters, and museum board members and staff, the four children helped kick off the Edible Schoolyard. Located in the heart of downtown Greensboro on Church Street, the Edible Schoolyard is designed to teach children about how food is grown and the importance of eating well. Alice Waters, who created the first Edible Schoolyard over 10 years ago, came to Greensboro for the event as the guest of honor. Waters is an internationally known advocate of local, organic food, teaching children about health and food, and is also the famous cook and co-owner of the Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif.

“They described you as the Michael Jordan of edible gardens,” said Mayor Yvonne Johnson, introducing Waters. Johnson also gave Waters a key to the City.

“It’s planting an idea in very fertile ground and I think it’s a universal idea,” Waters told The Guilfordian at the event. “We need to embrace it as a nation.”

The groundbreaking of The Edible Schoolyard comes as community gardens are on the rise in Greensboro and nationally, including the new garden at Guilford. The project at Children’s Museum is the first Edible Schoolyard in the Southeast. But the idea for gardening and food education isn’t a new phenomenon.

“I can remember when my parents had a Victory Garden in New Jersey,” Waters told the crowd of roughly 200 people attending the groundbreaking.

Victory Gardens were popular during both World Wars as a way for families throughout the country to grow more of their own food and offset a strain on the nation’s food-supply. Victory Gardens were supported and encouraged by the U.S. government, and Waters is urging more federal support for local and organic food growth and consumption.

After remarks by a number of people associated with the project and the official groundbreaking, dozens of women and a few men waited in a line to meet Waters and for a book signing of her various books.

Senior Katrina Siladi works full time as the Edible Schoolyard Education Programmer and AmeriCorps Access Member.

“I’ve been working my dream job for the past five months, and today is a celebration of what we have done and what we’re going to do,” Siladi said. “My education at Guilford directly prepared me to understand the importance of a project like this.”

Other people working on the Edible Schoolyard project were excited about the event and the potential for the garden.

“It’s a refuge for me in the City where I can get my hands dirty,” said Justin Leonard, who has been working at The Children’s Museum for a year and a half.

His wife Dawn Leonard worked on preparing the groundbreaking, and emphasized the opportunities for other edible gardens in Greensboro.

“We can grow food in the city- there’s a lot of unutilized space,” she said.

A number of Greensboro City Council candidates were present, including Joel Landau and Mary Rakestraw. Landau is the general manager of Deep Roots Cooperative Market and is the co-chair of the Greensboro Community Sustainability Council. Rakestraw sits on City Council as an at-large representative but is running as a district candidate this fall. They are two of the four candidates for District 4, which includes Guilford’s campus.

“I’m so pleased to see this happen,” Rakestraw told The Guilfordian. “It’s going to teach children about the importance of Mother Nature.”

Check next week’s Guilfordian for a full interview with Joel Landau about local food, his work on the Sustainability Council, and his connection with Guilford students.

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