A Harvest of Learning

Wendy Johnson

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One day a week my Zen Center work includes leaving the well-ordered calm of our windbell meditation garden and heading east to Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, where I work with a rowdy, rotating population of eleven- to fourteen-year-olds and their dedicated teachers cultivating a one-acre Edible Schoolyard garden in the heart of north Berkeley.

“A school garden carries the life of the community,” proclaims a 1909 pamphlet on suggestions for garden work in California schools. This has been true for the Edible Schoolyard since its conception in 1995, when a local resident and the founder of Chez Panisse restaurant, Alice Waters, met with King Middle School principal Neil Smith to plan not only a garden within the school community but a school within the lively continuum of its garden and kitchen “classrooms.”

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