A Letter from our Founder

Hi, my name is Annie and I am the founder of the Sage Garden Project. We help to create a school experience with three layers of impact, or what we like to call the triple harvest: Our project offers students the opportunity for deep experiential learning, creates dedicated leaders in edible education, and nourishes school communities. Through growing, cooking, and eating together, all of us are “fed” in many ways. Unfortunately, the value of these activities was not always so clear to me.

As a child I was never comfortable in my body, or in school. I didn’t learn like others, and as a result I did not learn well. I was always hungry, both mentally for a way to learn and physically for nourishment for my body. As an adult, after being diagnosed as dyslexic and struggling with disordered eating, I understood there were meaningful reasons I hadn’t fit in the system as others did. That’s why this project is so personal–I wanted to give kids the nourishing experience I did not have in school.

I found the first seeds of this project when I participated in a cooking class at my daughter Sage’s elementary school, taught by my friend Chris Antonelli. I mostly created chaos and laughter while Chris did all the hard work, but in moments I was able to observe what was really happening. I saw one young student, who was insecure about math, hold two measuring cups and suddenly understand how fractions work. The rascal kids were often the most attentive, and I learned from their teacher that they rarely missed school on the days of her class. Students were laughing and learning, listening aptly about history and biology, and ultimately, feeding a hunger for connection that goes far beyond food. What had been hurting in me, I saw being nourished in them.

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A few more seeds sprouted when I started a cooking school in Italy, and I learned that many of the people in the program experienced disordered eating. In one of the first lessons, the chef ladled a heaping pool of olive oil into a pan, and there was an audible gasp of disbelief at such an extravagant amount of fat. Visible shame and self-hatred accompanied them into the kitchen, which I saw slowly wash away by a contagious celebration of food. By the third day, everyone was eating, laughing and singing. Many were inspired to make major life changes after leaving, driven by the rebirth of a passion nurtured by the food they had learned to make. 

At the Sage Garden Project, we offer students the skills, knowledge, and exposure they need to choose to live more healthfully. Our program dovetails beautifully with other initiatives working to improve the nutritional value of school lunch, reduce type 2 diabetes, and change the way we talk, feel and think about food.

The Sage Garden Project is a place for children to learn at their own pace, in their own way, and experience autonomy. The strength and joy of their growth is the harvest that inspires their teachers and leaders, and in turn whole communities.This is the triple harvest we set out to cultivate, and which we continue to sow and plant.