Photographer Ene Osteraas-Constable explored gardening practices of ten families whose children attended Martin Luther King Elementary School in Berkeley, California—home of The Edible Schoolyard, a model organic garden and cooking program. Students and teachers at the school have created a one-acre organic school garden. The program has become a pioneer for integrating organic gardening and cooking into the core curriculum of public schools and has strengthened ties between the school and its community.
In the course of documenting the daily lives of students, photographer Osteraas-Constable and the Schoolyard’s then director Mildred Howard noted that not all of the children’s families, many of them recent immigrants, were involved in its program.
Through Family Roots, Osteraas-Constable left the Schoolyard to document the backyard vegetable gardens tended by the families of ten students–exploring cultural difference through the lens of gardening and cuisine. She also collected oral histories and written recipes: The project culminated with a potluck meal among participating families.
The artist created large, collage format images that allowed her to show the photos as part of a continuum. After an initial exhibition at the school, Osteraas-Constable was invited to exhibit them at Berkeley Bowl, a popular produce market in Berkeley, and to present them to the National Society of Nutrition Educators.
Ene Osteraas-Constable is an expert in cultural gardening and has explored the relationship between culture and food in photography and other media. She is a member the artist team of “Wowhaus,” whose work includes installation art, environmental projects, media, and architecture.