(Photos of Bayside’s school garden)
Today I worked at MLK Bayside Academy in Marin City, the elementary school where the Conscious Kitchen launched their pilot program and the first school in the country to become 100% organic. I met up with Charlie and headed to the school garden, where we were introduced to Elizabeth DeRuff who teaches in the garden on a wednesday afternoon. Elizabeth was hired by the Boys & Girls Club, which operates next to Bayside and runs after school programs for many of the students until 6pm everyday. Elizabeth is an organic wheat farmer up in Healdsburg who works in the community and with the church, and has begun educating people, young and old, about growing, stone-milling, and eating heirloom varieties of wheat. More information about Elizabeth and her work can be found at What’s Up With Wheat?
Her lessons incorporate gardening, botany, mathematics, history, language, cooking, and sensory education. She has been teaching the kids the different parts of the grain and their functions, as well as the processes involved in getting the seed all the way to the loaf of bread they see in the grocery store. Today’s class focused on threshing the wheat that they grew in the garden and harvested. We picked the heads off of the stalks and dropped them into a wooden threshing box (see photos below). Then everyone was given a turn at threshing the grain back and forth using a wooden paddle until the seeds had all been separated from the outer shell. At the end of class, the kids helped set the table and Elizabeth served everyone fresh bread and butter. Before eating, we went around the table and said something we were grateful for. As the kids tried the bread, she asked them to talk about how it tasted and smelled, describing the textures and flavors.