Gardening and Cooking Program

2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702
Tel: 510.486.9350 | Fax: 510.644.8815
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Jezra Thompson, Program Supervisor
Mia Villanueva, Program Coordinator

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The Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program engages students with hands-on instruction in the garden. As part of the 2020 Vision, the program is woven into student life District-wide to ensure the academic, physical, emotional, and social development of all students. Our interdisciplinary Garden-Based Learning Curriculum connects the academic classroom to the school gardens to affect three main areas of student learning from pre-kindergarten through seventh grade:

Academic Achievement:

By utilizing a place-based, interdisciplinary, and experiential approach to the new academic standards, garden educators work closely with teachers to bring classroom learning to life in the garden.

Increased Health:

The inclusive and expansive curriculum promotes health and nutrition as part of classroom academic curriculum with opportunities to taste delicious fruits and veggies found growing in the garden. We teach students that taking care of the land and your body and understanding the importance of healthy food allows for the development of multiple intelligences integral to whole child education.

Essential Life Skills:

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 to well-being, students practice cultural competence as they cultivate positive relationships with the world around them and their peers.

We provide this education with a focus on equity and practicability in 17 schools within BUSD:

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

A Valentine’s Taste of North Shattuck!

Join us on February 11, 2015 for a leisurely love-filled evening of treats, sweets, and wine in full Berkeley spirit. We will partner with the North Shattuck Association and many generous restaurants, eateries, and boutiques along the North Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto along Shattuck and Vine Streets for a taste-sational stroll from 4-8 pm. We will have limited tickets for sale at the event. You can pre-purchase tickets here.

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 held at the Ed Roberts Campus from 6:00-9:00 pm. 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 Marketplace at Gilman and Telegraph, Mendocino Wine Growers Inc, Shrub & Co, Calicraft Brewing, 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 Berkeley High School Jazz musicians. Don’t miss this party! You can purchase tickets here.

Dine Out with Us!

On Thursday, November 13, 2014 we partnered 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. We will have another Dine Out on May 21, 2015. Participating restaurants will be listed below on an ongoing basis, so please refer back to this list. If you are a restaurant and want to participate in Dine Out, thank you! Please email Mia at

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, instructional support, or event assistance, 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, you will be contacted to attend a volunteer training and will be required to get fingerprints–paid for by BPSF. We will be provided with your certification to work with students and you will be notified of your placement.

Donate Now

Your financial gift will support our work in serving BUSD students with a garden-based learning education. Please consider giving to enhance this work for your students. You can send your check payable to: Gardening & Cooking Program, 2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702. In the memo section of the check, please add “Gardening & Cooking Program.”

Learn More About Us

Join us for a family friendly gathering on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Westbrae Biergarten 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. Our next happy hour will on on December 17th to accommodate the winter holidays. Get to know your teachers, garden educators, and school communities in a casual environment at one of our local supporting businesses.

News and Media

Obama Signed A Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, December 3, 2014, FACT SHEET: Lifting America’s Game in Climate Education, Literacy, and Training

“If you believe, like I do, that something has to be done on this, then you’re going to have to speak out. You’re going to have to learn more about these issues… You’ve got to educate your classmates, and colleagues, and family members and fellow citizens, and tell them what’s at stake.” — President Obama, June 2014, Remarks at the University of California-Irvine Commencement Ceremony

Change is Uncomfortable Blog, by Jezra Thompson, republished in Berkeley Times

Signs of Growth, October 24, 2014, Alex Berryhill

School Board Presentations to secure fiscally responsible and sustainable funding for BUSD GCP staff salaries and benefits:

March 26, 2014

March 12, 2014

February 19, 2014


Our Garden-Based Learning Curriculum and Assessments

We have published our first garden-based learning curriculum that connects Next Generation Science and English Language Arts Standards to the garden. We are working with the Atkins Center for Weight and Health on an assessment of our curriculum implementations to support amending each lesson to be a better teaching tool. Reports on how we’re doing will be shared with the community at School Board meeting presentations. We will republish this pilot curriculum and will make it available to the public next year.

More Data In Support of A Garden-Based Learning Program

A new study is underway on the effects of school gardens on children’s physical activity, December 8, 2014. Results of this study will provide insight regarding the potential for school gardens to increase children’s physical activity and decrease sedentary behaviors.

In 2010, a California study, An Evaluation of the School Lunch Initiative, from the Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California Berkeley, stated that gardening and cooking programs at schools increases consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in students who were in school gardening programs.

In 2006, a California study, The Health Education and Behavior, cited by health researcher Emily Ozer, Ph.D., in which 4,184 public school principals responded to a survey, 89% viewed academic enhancement, especially in relation to science and nutrition, as the main purpose of the garden in their school. Findings state that school garden programs improve student nutrition and physical activity.

In 2014, Cornell University conducted a study of elementary schools with school gardens in New York state. Findings found that in 60-minute outdoor garden-based lessons, children did a significant amount of standing, walking and kneeling. By contrast, children who participated in 60-minute indoor garden-based classroom lessons spent the vast majority of the time sitting.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports on the benefits of physical activity improves health and reduces the risk of obesity and being overweight, as well as improves mood and mental health. They also report that consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risks for numerous chronic diseases,including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The CDC recommends replacing foods of high energy density (high calories per weight of food) with foods of lower energy density, such as fruits and vegetables, can be an important part of a weight management strategy.

A study published on October, 2014 in the academic journal, Climatic Change, found after surveying 2,847 students in 49 high schools, that making learning fun makes information stick. “Exposure to climate science in an engaging edutainment format,” the researchers claim, “changes youths’ knowledge, beliefs, involvement, and behavior positively.”

Sustainability Projects We Facilitate

We lead district-wide initiatives for waste reduction and co-facilitate many school site sustainability projects with the Facilities and Maintenance Departments, and with support from Green Schools Initiative. We do this through our leadership efforts with Green Teams at all schools, partnership building with sustainability organizations, and integrating sustainability concepts and practices into our Garden-Based Learning Curriculum.

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 donates seasonal and fresh produce to our school gardens for student tastings in loving memory of Albert DelMasso.

North Shattuck Association

Jules Thin Crust Pizza

Cancun Sabor Mexicano

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