Gardening and Cooking Program

Jezra Thompson, Program Supervisor
Mia Villanueva, Program Coordinator
2020 Bonar Street
Berkeley, CA 94702
Phone:  510-486-9350
Fax:  510-644-8815

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Gardening and Cooking Programs

The Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program (GCP) engages students in hands-on instruction with gardening lessons that connect to science and English language arts. The program is woven into academic life District-wide to ensure the academic, physical, emotional, and social development of all students in BUSD. The GCP supports BUSD’s 2020 vision to close the achievement gap with an interdisciplinary curriculum that connects the academic classroom to the school gardens to affect three main areas of student development from pre-kindergarten through seventh grade. This year, we are piloting a new garden-based learning curriculum that supports teaching and learning in science and language arts. We collaborate with many community partners, listed below, to achieve the following goals:

Academic Achievement: By utilizing a place-based, interdisciplinary, and experiential approach to the new Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, the GPC works closely with classroom teachers and principals to bring classroom learning to life in the gardens. This approach allows for the success of multiple intelligences as it connects core academic concepts to whole child education.

Increased Health: We teach students that taking care of the land and knowing where our food comes from is important and intimately connected to science, reading, writing, and arithmetic. The GPC presents an integrated curriculum that promotes health and nutrition as part of the academic curriculum with opportunities to prepare nutritious and delicious snacks with produce found growing in the garden.

Essential Life Skills: We present opportunities throughout the school day with the simple pleasures of growing, harvesting, preparing, and enjoying delicious seasonal snacks with each other. Through placed-based learning, students gain valuable communication and collaboration skills, while building confidence as problem-solvers. Through the celebration of food across cultures and a commitment toward well-being, students practice cultural competence as they cultivate positive relationships with the world around them and their peers.

Early Child Education School Gardens

King, Hopkins, and Franklin

Elementary School Gardens

Emerson, John Muir, LeConte, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Thousand Oaks, Washington, Oxford, Berkeley Arts Magnet at Whittier, Cragmont, Jefferson,

Middle School Gardens

Willard and Longfellow

High School Gardens

Berkeley Technology Academy

Fundraising Events

Dine Out with Us!

On Thursday, November 13, 2014 we will partner with generous local restaurants throughout Berkeley to co-host a wonderful food-filled day and night in support of a garden-based learning education for Berkeley Public Schools. This is a great way to try something new, dine out at a local business, and support your public schools in providing a garden-based education.

If you are a restaurant and want to participate in Dine Out, thank you!, and please email Mia at If you are an eager diner awaiting this sensational event, stay tuned for a continually updated list of participating restaurants here…

A Valentine’s Taste of North Shattuck!

Join us on February 11, 2015 for a leisurely love-filled evening of treats, sweets, wine, in full Berkeley spirit. We will partner with the North Shattuck Association and many generous restaurants, eateries, and boutiques along the Gourmet Ghetto for a taste-sational stroll.

Celebrate Food Systems and Education at Our Annual Gala!

This spring on April 10, 2015, we will celebrate food systems and education at our second annual gala. We had so much fun at our first gala last year that we decided to do it again this year with generous support from local Berkeley businesses, Whole Foods, Mendocino Wine Association, Westbrae Beirgarten, local craft brewers, and many volunteers. You are cordially invited to join us at this festive Berkeley community event for seasonal farm-to-table fare, regional drinks, and music from award winning student musicians at our schools. Stay tuned to learn more and for links to buy tickets.

Social Media

Follow us on Twitter @BerkeleyDineOut

Volunteer With Us

Volunteers are an important part of our work. They help inspire the many students who tell their parents and friends about the tasty veggies they tried in the garden and the seeds they planted in the dirt. Whether it is garden maintenance, teacher support, or event assistance, if you are interested in supporting a garden-based learning education please consider volunteering your time by visiting the Berkeley Public Schools Fund to fill out the form for volunteering at one of our 16 school sites. Once this form is filled out, we will be provided with your certification to work with students.

Donate Now

Your financial gift will support our work in serving BUSD students in the garden and kitchen classrooms.  Please send your check payable to:

Cooking & Gardening Program, 2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702. In the memo section of the check, please add “Cooking & Gardening Program”

Learn More About Us

Join us on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Westbrae Beirtgarten on Gilman St from 4:30-7:00 pm. Every $1 you spend on a 1 liter Trumer Pils stein will be donated to us. Get to know your teachers, garden educators, and school communities in a casual environment at one of our local supporting businesses.
Change is Uncomfortable Blog, by Jezra Thompson, republished in Berkeley Times

We are still trying to get full financial support from the School Board. Watch past presentations with the School Board via the links below. For additional program proposals, please visit the School Board tab above.

March 26, 2014

March 12, 2014

February 19, 2014

In The News

Berkeley schools’ edible program faces challenges, November 11, 2013, Frances Dinkelspiel

Berkeley raises funds for schools’ edible program, November 14, 2013, Tracey Taylor

Berkeley district votes to fund at-risk edible programs, April 12, 2012, Sarah Henry

Research verifies importance of school food program, September 23, 2010, Lance Knobel

Active Community Partners

Whole Foods Telegraph and Gilman

Ecology Center

Small Planet Institute

UC Berkeley Atkins Center for Weight and Health

UC Berkeley Student, Organic, Garden Association – SOGA

UC Berkeley Food Institute

Edible Schoolyard Project, Berkeley

Berkeley Public Schools Fund

Green Schools Initiative

Bay Cities Produce Co., Inc

Westbrae Biergarten

North Shattuck Association

Jules Thin Crust Pizza

Cancun Sabor Mexicano


We have published our first curriculum that connects science and English language arts to the garden. Students will be learning these standards in the garden, an extension of the teacher classroom. The curriculum, Garden-Based Learning Curriculum, Kindergarten through Seventh Grade, 2014-2015, will be republished after this pilot year and made available to the public. We are working with the Atkins Center for Weight and Health on an assessment of our curriculum implementations. Reports on how we’re doing will be shared with the community at School Board meeting presentations.

An Evaluation of the School Lunch Initiative, Sept 2010, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California Berkeley:



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