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 BUSD Gardening and Cooking Program (GCP) engages students in hands-on instruction with gardening lessons. 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 graduation. We will be rolling out a new garden-based learning curriculum in 2014-2015 that supports teaching and learning in science and language arts. We focus on 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


Fundraising Events

The Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program hosts three fundraisers every year, Dine Out and an annual gala. We had our first gala last year with generous support from local Berkeley businesses, Whole Foods, Andronicos, Mendocino Wine Association, Cali Craft, Pyramid Brewing, Chancellor’s Office, and the many volunteers, we celebrated the gardening education in Berkeley’s Public Schools. We invited the Berkeley community and beyond to join us for farm to table fare, drinks, music from the Willard and King Middle School Ensemble to learn more about our program, the student connection, and community relationships. We invited the well-known author and contributor to many books on sustainable food systems, Anna Blythe Lappé, the founding principal of Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund, as well as Ann Thrupp, the new Executive Director of the Food Institute in UC Berkeley, to share some inspiring words on food systems and education and the importance of connecting student learning with real world experiences around food and the environment. Check out the wonderful event here.

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 school gardens. 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

We will pilot many new things this year and we will continue to work with the Berkeley Public School community to re-envision a sustainable Gardening and Cooking Program. We invite you to download our brand new Garden-Based Learning Curriculum for kindergarten through seventh grade to learn more about our standards-based lessons and collaborative approach to teaching in the school garden. (Garden-Based Learning Curriculum Attachment)

Program Updates:

Change Is Uncomfortable: BUSD’s Gardening and Cooking Program, 2013-2014, by Jezra Thompson

You can watch past program proposal 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

Edible Schoolyard Project, Berkeley

Whole Foods Telegraph and Gilman

Ecology Center

Small Planet Institute

UC Berkeley Atkins Center for Weight and Health

UC Berkeley Food Institute



Garden-Based Learning Curriculum, Kindergarten through Seventh Grade, 2014-2015, Berkeley Public Schools

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

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