Updated Jan. 17
One of the biggest names of the culinary world is collaborating with UC Davis and the expansion project at its Sacramento campus.
When it comes to people who have defined California cuisine, Alice Waters is a ground-breaker. Her world famous Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley opened nearly 50 years ago, which set a tone for seasonal menus.
Then, 25 years ago she took that passion for fresh food and began passing it along to children with vegetable gardens planted on school grounds. That mission is continuing with the launch of the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education at the UC Davis Aggie Square project.
The institute will provide opportunities for K-12 students to learn about the food system, create curriculum and training for educators, and other space for research.
Waters said the university is a perfect fit for her mission "because this is not only an agricultural institution, but it's about health as well, and science.”
UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May said the idea sprouted out of a conversation with Waters during a visit to her Berkeley restaurant.
The institute will be located inside the food-and-health themed building adjacent to an outdoor market plaza as part of Aggie Square's Phase One. Currently a parking lot is there, just across Stockton Boulevard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars building at 3rd Avenue.
Waters said in addition to the academic aspects of the institute, she wants to be a partner in the Oak Park community by creating opportunities for its residents, including cooking and gardening classes.
Over the past quarter century, her Edible Schoolyard Project has expanded to nearly 7,000 schools worldwide. She said collaborating with UC Davis gives her efforts even more credibility.
"I already know that fundraising for any project we dream up will be so much easier because somebody has said this program is really valuable,” said Waters. "It’s a massive stamp of approval for us.”
She envisions the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education with a vibrant outdoor plaza that could show food-related movies on warm nights. Waters also says vertical gardens and an exhibition kitchen for teaching could welcome visitors, along with a library full of cookbooks, and books about agriculture and food history.
Aggie Square is an extension of the UC Davis Med Center campus, and is also a collaboration with the city of Sacramento.
This story was updated to add the future location of the institute.
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