Woolman School students take the stage with Michael Pollan | TheUnion.com
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Woolman School students take the stage with Michael Pollan

Students of The Woolman Semester School had the rare opportunity to take the stage before Michael Pollan last Friday night at the Veterans Memorial Building in Grass Valley. Every fall and spring, the school brings high school students from across the country to its campus just outside of Nevada City to participate in its peace, social justice and sustainability studies program.

Michael Pollan’s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” is part of the curriculum, and Pollan is a long-time campus hero for his popularization of organic farming, food justice and sustainability.

As part of their environmental science course, Woolman students leave campus for a week-long food intensive, visiting places like the Seed Biotechnology Center at U.C. Davis, the Berkeley Farmers Market, the Santa Rosa Heirloom Festival, Full Belly Farms and the Regenerative Design Institute.



On campus, in their Farm-to-Table class, students plant, harvest, cook, can and cure their own food, which is then served in the school’s vegetarian dining hall. Students are empowered with skills to plant and tend their own garden as well as harvest and cook their own food. They study basic botany, soil science, pollination, seed saving, composting, urban farming, ‘locavore’ movements, food preservation and recipe improvisation.

Hearing Michael Pollan speak was the perfect capstone event for the semester students, making their curriculum come alive. Julie Baker and The Center for the Arts deserve many thanks for inviting the student band, Johnny Woolman and the Wombats, to participate in the event and for making it possible for the entire school to sit in the audience and cheer them on.




In addition to the big-name talent that the Center brings to town, it is also committed to youth arts, and giving young artists exposure and support. The Center gifted the Woolman student musicians with an evening of feeling like “real” artists. The band was given VIP parking, its own green room, professional stage direction and sound engineering. Validation and encouragement are such an important piece of growing young talent. The Center provided these in great supply. And what an audience to play for! To receive a standing ovation from this community of movers and shakers in the environmental and food justice movements is definitely something to write home about!

Estrella Acosta is admissions and outreach director with the Woolman Semester School in Nevada City.


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