Tuesday, March 9, 2010

All Roads Lead to Berkeley

By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

D.C. Public Schools' new food service director, Jeff Mills, and Bacroft Elementary art and garden teacher Sarah Bernardi are flying off to Berkeley, California, tomorrow on a fact-finding mission for a pilot D.C. school gardening project that appears to moving ahead at light speed.

Mills and Bernardi will get a tour of Alice Waters' famed "Edible Schoolyard" and meet with staff at the Chez Panisse Foundation, where the garden proposal Bernardi has been so furiously assembling in recent weeks has been getting vetted by experienced school garden hands.

Mills and Bernardi will be joined by Lauren Biel, who, along with Bernardi, formed an organization called DC Greens to operate the Glover Park Farmers Market and raise funds for school gardens. (There's just so much going on with school gardens these days--and so quickly.)

We've yet to see details of the Bernardi/Biel pilot garden proposal, but Bernardi lately has been walking it all over town, trying to establish a consensus among school garden advocates. While in California, she'll also be meeting with the head of the San Francisco Green School alliance and touring school gardens there. Then it's back to D.C. to sell the garden proposal to school officials here and start looking for funds.

All of this started in January when Waters, who was in D.C. for a fundraising event, met with schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Mills to offer help with school gardens. Subsequently, Bernardi, who is one of the Bancroft teachers working closely with Michelle Obama in the White House garden, wrote an impassioned essay about the need overburdened teachers have for help managing school gardens.

Mills picked Bernardi to solve the problem. (Careful what you wish for?)

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