Why an Edible Garden?

Above: Jamie Oliver

At Seven Arrows, our Edible Garden is a part of our daily life. In the mornings, we are greeted by the smells of rosemary, lemon verbena, and thyme. When the fruit and vegetables are ripe, we help ourselves and have gratitude for the abundance we are surrounded with. Three times a year, our student’s communally harvest, cook, and nourish themselves.

Our school has a long tradition of guiding students in understanding their relationship to nature and the cycles of the natural world. One of our core values is respect – for ourselves, others, and the environment. We want students to not just think and act responsibly with earth; we want them to be in relationship with the earth. The lessons learned from sowing and harvesting are immeasurable. Our Edible Garden has been present on campus since 1999, our founding year. In 2010, celebrity chef and food education advocate Jamie Oliver, a Seven Arrows parent at that time, breathed new life into our program and, in the summer of 2011, our Edible Garden was reborn and solidified as an integral component of our curriculum.

In 2016, the Seven Arrows community published Growing Up with an Edible Garden, a cookbook of recipes inspired and used by our program; we had the honor of Jamie writing the foreword. His offering captures the reasons food education is important and the long-term benefits.

From Jamie’s foreword:

“Getting kids to learn through growing and cooking is fun and exciting, but it also provides them with some of the most important life skills, plus the ability to make better food choices that will allow them to go on and lead healthier, happier lives in the future.

I’m fully aware that this isn’t an easy thing to do. Sadly, these days, it’s very difficult for a lot of kids to see where their food comes from or how it affects their bodies. If you ask them (and I have), don’t be surprised if you get the answer: from a supermarket, a packet, or a fast-food restaurant. In one school I worked with, the kids didn’t know that beef came from a cow, or that ketchup is made from tomatoes. In fact, they didn’t know what a tomato was. This is down to a lack of food education. After just one lesson, the kids were buzzing and could tell me all manner of exciting things about vegetables and fruits. But, if you think about it, it’s pretty rare for kids to get the opportunity to watch things grow, to nurture them, and fully appreciate the wonderful way that nature works.

Above: Seven Arrows’ Cookbook, “Growing Up with an Edible Garden”

Growing food demonstrates to children that they can take control of what they eat, and they relish the sense of freedom and adventure the outdoors provides: they can try and taste new things, away from the pressures of the classroom and parents. For me, it’s right up there with the most important thing a child can learn. Food is powerful. It can bring people and families together. It can make you feel fantastic, energized, comforted, loved, and above all, happy!

My girls went to Seven Arrows when we lived in Los Angeles, and it really was a wonderful time. The mission of the school and the spirit of letting each child blossom into their best self, lends itself perfectly to  a super-strong food education program. I cannot tell you how pleased and proud I am to see how the Edible Garden has grown and matured into something truly special. It allows children to really connect with nature, to grow beautiful fresh produce, and to reap the rewards of their hard work by preparing and eating it together. What could be better?”

To purchase a copy of Growing Up with an Edible Garden, please drop by the Seven Arrows Business Office.