Doing a Lot of Good While Having a Lot of Fun!

Being kind and community-service oriented are (or should be) important considerations of our
roles in society. If we blindly and greedily go through life, we are actually taking up more room
than we deserve. Most of us have been on the fortunate side of receiving benefits derived from
our presence and contributions to the overall welfare of the community in which we reside.
It is not too much to expect those who have been blessed will pass their blessings on to others.
What is ice cream on the cake is when we are able to be generous and at the same time derive
pleasures and rewards as we make our way through a kind world. Such an opportunity is staring
New Orleanians directly in their eyes.

Some of our friends and neighbors still may not know about Edible Schoolyard. Established in
1995 by famed chef, Alice Waters, in Berkeley, California, the point of the totally hands-on
program was to take inner-city grade school youth and teach them about agriculture, fruits and
vegetables, nutrition, culinary and other aspects of Nature. The program set aside portions of
school yards and devoted the space towards planting and raising crops.
Most of the students had never planted and nurtured crops, like beans or leafy vegetables.
These students had never made the connection between what was on their dinner plates and
where those items came from. Ms. Waters connected those dots.
Then after planting and caring for the agricultural item, she changed hats and became a
nutritionist. Not in a dry scientific way but rather in a “gee whiz, look at this” enthusiastic way.
And that aspect of the program led to creating tastes-good meal preparations. All the while, the
children were learning about earth’s bounties and our body’s fuel needs. The childrens’
curiosities were stimulated. The learning circle was completed. What was learned was

Very early in Alice Waters’ journey, certain inner-city schools in New Orleans took an interest.
And it was here, in one of our nations’ properly recognized culinary centers, that the Edible
Schoolyard movement took an important direction. Thanks to our society’s embrace of its
culinary heritage, the students, at meal time in their home, asked their parents if they could eat
like they do in school. Oh yes, game changer!
Alice Waters did not see that development coming. She was gobsmacked and savvy enough
not to let the opportunity pass. Edible Schoolyard was suddenly Edible Neighborhood Family.
Recipes were swapped. Gardens were created. Meal plans were highlighted.
Even today, thirty years after the program’s birth, the energies have not waned. No signs of
fatigue. And here is where you come in.

The materials necessary to give our students the resources to encourage their curiosity and
ultimately keep them focused are not cheap. Tools, fertilizers, plant material and seeds, and the
like all cost money. Training the instructors and bringing on knowledgeable mentors can also eat
through available cash and resources. So what is the logical New Orleans solution to the
challenges of operating a viable ongoing educational effort: throw a great party.
For a number of years, Edible Schoolyard has staged one of the finest fund-raisers imaginable.
Restaurants from all over town show up to show off and in the process serve terrific dishes. A
winery with heavy local familial ties, Presquile of Santa Barbara, CA, generously pours its
delicious reds and whites. There is plenty of music and very little stress to visit every table. It’s
a gathering of purpose and allied goals from the Hospitality and Educational industries.
And for an evening of delights, on Thursday, March 21, pointed to the education of future New
Orleanians, an expansion of their minds, admission and full participation is only $75. That
includes all food and drinks from 30 restaurants and drink purveyors.
It’s a real bargain, staged at one of New Orleans’ Edible Schoolyards, Samuel Green Charter
School on Valence just off of Freret. More information and ticket sales are here:

We hope to see you there.