Monday, April 6, 2009

Edible Schoolyards in NJ

By Pat Tanner

Even before Michelle Obama and some local school kids took spades in hand to dig an organic garden at the White House, the momentum for a farm-to-school movement had been building. It began, of course, with the success of Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard program in Berkeley, California. (Ms. Waters, of Chez Panisse fame, grew up in Chatham. She credits childhood memories of her family’s Victory Garden as one inspiration for her life’s work.)

On Saturday, April 18th, leading school garden experts from around the state are teaming up for the first ever New Jersey Farm to School Conference. Attendance is open to anyone – including parents – interested in creating a school garden; getting healthy, locally grown food into their school’s cafeteria program; or incorporating food education into the curriculum.

A network of almost 30 groups with successful programs - including chefs, parents, teachers, farmers, and food access advocates - have teamed up for a full day of presentations. Keynote speaker will be Josh Viertel, the newly appointed president of Slow Food USA, who recently met with members of the Obama administration. He is a Harvard graduate who has contributed to the sustainable food movement as an educator, organic farmer, and activist.

The conference is being held at The Lawrenceville School, where chef Gary Giberson helped launch the school’s Green Campus Initiative a few years back and which has become a model for schools nationwide. His business, Sustainable Fare, will provide a lunch of locally sourced foods that is included in the modest conference fee.

New Jersey Farm to School Conference will take place on Saturday, April 18, 2009 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 pm. at The Lawrenceville School, 2500 Main Street (Route 206), Lawrenceville. The conference fee, which includes lunch, is $25 in advance and $35 at the door. To register, for directions, and for more information visit or phone 609.577.5113.

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