The aim of the Edible School Garden Project (ESGP) is to incorporate plant science, wholesome eating habits, and sustainable farming methods into the K-12 curricula. This, by having teachers and students produce their own food at school, will provide all students in the Kingdom with a locally grown, cost-free, healthy lunch.
The pilot project was initiated by the Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) with the help of The KAUST School (TKS). It is based on Alice Waters’ The Edible Schoolyard Project, which she started in the United States, but has been modified by the CDA for the harsh desert climate of Saudi Arabia. Through its engagement with K–12 students, the project hopes to change perceptions about the food system in the Kingdom.
It provides a sustainable, creative, fun, student-led gardening experience that strengthens the bonds between the children and the natural world, their neighborhood, and the rest of the world by educating them about the effects of food production on the future of the planet. It does this by incorporating the full life cycle of a sustainably cultivated lunch, from sowing and harvesting to cooking and composting.
The project hopes to change perceptions about the food system in the Kingdom
CDA Director Professor Rod A. Wing explained: “KAUST is committed to empowering and inspiring the young minds of Saudi Arabia with the knowledge, training, and confidence to tackle what is arguably the most significant problem of this century: How can we sustainably feed our rapidly growing population?
“We believe that edible education enables children to develop a deep and critical understanding of food production, healthy living, and the environment, and encourages them to apply this knowledge to create sustainable food systems in their communities.”
To create the first edible school gardens in Saudi Arabia, TKS students partnered with plant scientists and gardening specialists, while TKS educators and CDA staff developed the corresponding classes.
The two pilot gardens, located on the TKS kindergarten campus and grade 1-12 campus, are a fundamental part of the curriculum for the 2022-2023 academic year
The two pilot gardens, located on the TKS kindergarten campus and grade 1-12 campus, are a fundamental part of the curriculum for the 2022-2023 academic year. Supported by the University’s researchers, the students will carry out hands-on plant science experiments in the TKS laboratories.
TKS Director Dr Michelle Remington spoke enthusiastically about the program, commenting: “The Edible School Garden Project embodies The KAUST School’s vision to be a courageously bold leader in K-12 education and to positively impact humanity. The project enhances our science teaching and underlines the central role that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play in our curriculum. The edible school gardens are outdoor classrooms where many of these SDGs are brought into practice for our students.”
The next phase of the pilot project will revolve around building a TKS greenhouse. The Edible School Garden Project is currently being expanded to new schools throughout the Kingdom by the CDA and its partners.