The Ten: Raquel Vigil
Name and job title Raquel Vigil, Senior Curriculum Manager for The Edible Schoolyard Project Where were you born, and where do you live now?
I was born in Hayward, CA, but grew up in San Francisco, where I currently reside. How you describe what you do? I have the pleasure of designing the curriculum for the Edible Schoolyard Project. Since 2020, I have co-designed and authored over 180 lessons with topics ranging from plant anatomy to designing social action projects around the values and principles of Organic. All the lessons are for school-aged young people and are made available at no cost for download at www.edibleschoolyard.org. How much did you spend on your last cup of coffee?
I made my last cup of coffee at home, which probably cost around $2. What is one ingredient that is crucial to your work and/or life?
It is imagination. I am constantly attempting to make space to imagine—it’s at the root of how I stay creative in my curriculum design work. What does a food and/or drinks system mean to you?
Our food system should be about how we nourish ourselves, our communities, and the land. However, the reality is that much of the food system is designed for efficiency rather than nurture and care. It’s important to me and the work I do to always advocate for a food system rooted in community, equity, joy, and care. How does your immediate locale / environment affect your work?
I work in the San Francisco Bay Area. I feel fortunate to be from a place with a vibrant local and sustainable food scene. This place is often at the forefront of sustainable food efforts. I also feel fortunate to be a part of an organization with a long history of advocating for gardens and edible education in schools. This year, Edible Schoolyard is celebrating our 26th year as an organization. The landscape, the advocacy work, and the access to resources and knowledge all strengthen and deepen the work I do. Where do you draw inspiration from in your work? I draw much inspiration from my passion for food and my conversations with people in my life. Food as a subject on so much and has the potential to connect to so many different content areas. I aim to write a curriculum that explores food and the simple ways we relate to food and nature. For instance, I wrote several lessons early in the pandemic designed solely around noticing food and nature around you. They ended up being lovely lessons that initiated some exciting insights. Another example is a curriculum I authored titled “Understanding Organic”. One day, I told my 13-year-old brother about what I do, and the conversation got around to talking about organic food. I asked him what organic food meant to him. It ended up being such an interesting conversation. It inspired me to create an entire curriculum that gives space to explore conversations about organic food. What impact do you want to have?
I ask myself this question all the time. I used to get anxious about how I couldn’t answer it, or rather how the answer always made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough. However, nowadays, I approach the question with the understanding that nothing is finite. Now, I allow my answer to evolve wherever I am at any given moment. Right now (today), I am interested in creating meaningful experiences for young people and adults to center learning in their exploration of food. I am interested in what connects people and food in a way that centers care and joy—if I can do that well, I am making an impact. What change do you want to see in the food and/or drinks system?
I want the food system to move away from extractive practices and towards those that center more equitable practices that create opportunities for us to connect directly to where our food comes from. We need a system that supports farmers who prioritize growing organic and regenerative food.
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