Grow, Cook, Eat + Enjoy with Edible School Yard Kern County
We recognize something different and cool has been taking shape in our county over the past few years when it comes to real food—the stuff that comes from the ground, not from a factory. More of us what to eat better and feel good too, and advocates for growing and eating real food are not just speaking up but they are educating, as well.
Be in Bakersfield is happy to support Edible Schoolyard Kern County and share what they are doing for our community. Kelly Atkinson believes that growing and cooking delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated. Learn how she and the ESYKC team are taking students back to the basics with a hands-on approach to growing and cooking real food.
Here is her story…
I love my work as Program Administrator for Edible Schoolyard Kern County (ESYKC)! Our heart and mission aligns two things that are important to me personally — delicious, locally grown food and educating our kids and community — for what we call “edible education.” The core of this work starts in our garden and kitchen classrooms by teaching students in Kern County how to grow and cook seasonal food in a hands-on fashion. The garden and the kitchen classrooms become the teacher and bring the academic classroom to life!
We start the process in the garden and teach students how our food grows. Processed foods are now less expensive and are easily-accessible, so kids are less connected to their food than ever before. We encourage our students to get their hands dirty in the garden, to explore and ask questions. They learn about seasonal produce, planting seeds, how to care for and cultivate plants and how to harvest produce. The students then take their bountiful harvest to the kitchen classroom.
In the kitchen, students get to use the nourishing garden ingredients they have grown to prepare a simple delicious recipe. They experience different flavors and textures while we teach them practical cooking skills. Once they complete the recipe, the table is set for all to gather around as they share the dish they have prepared. The excitement and pride on their beaming faces never gets old!
Our goal as a program is to see positive impact and long-term health and wellness benefits in our community. Our students become well versed in the seed-to-table cycle, how to nourish their mind and body, seasonality, environmental stewardship and have a strong sense of community when they leave the Edible Schoolyard in 6th grade.
The Edible Schoolyard provides an education in life. We invite students to fall in love with food through interactive life lessons. Food connects us to everything and all academic subjects are enlivened by edible education. We have found that students who are invested in growing their food are more interested in eating it and end up becoming advocates not only to themselves and their family, but their friends and their community. Edible education is changing the way we look at food through being mindful of growing, cooking and purchasing it and in turn become better stewards of our amazing Bakersfield community.
We are all about creating lifelong advocates of fresh foods, and we don’t think growing, cooking or eating it, has to be complicated. We live in a strong community founded and surrounded by agriculture. Our community is filled with passionate farmers and cooks alike, and we strive to teach students the importance of eating seasonally and supporting local farmers.
We want everyone to be able to be a part of edible education. One event we put on annually for the whole community is our Plant Sale at Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard (Saturday, April 6th). This is an event for the whole family!
We will have around 50 student volunteers helping out and sharing their knowledge. The Plant Sale will have games, crafts, homemade garden salads, pizza, fresh baked bread, raffle prizes and, of course... a variety of plants for sale! These plants were grown by our students from seed. You can take them home to plant in your garden to either start or continue your own edible education.