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 Whole World In a Small Seed – Lunch Love Community
The Whole World In a Small Seed – Lunch Love Community

At Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley, twice per month 400 children experience cross-disciplinary learning in the garden. It’s school under sky.

The Lunch Love Community Project is an open space documentary project by Helen De Michiel and Sophie Constantinou, produced by 30 Leaves Production, Citizen Film and Media Working Group.

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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 with the District adopted Social Emotional Learning Curriculum and the academic classroom. Our Garden-Based Learning Curriculum affects 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:

Will support from community partners and donations, we promote health and nutrition with opportunities to taste delicious fruits and veggies found growing in the garden. Teaching students that taking care of the land and your body 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. Students practice cultural competence and language development as they cultivate positive relationships with the world around them and their peers.

We provide this collaborative education with a focus on consistency and practicality in 17 schools:

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

Garden-Based Learning Curriculum

Last year, as part of the interim funding agreement that was approved along with the revised Program plan, the District’s School Board requested additional instructional support for connecting the Program to classroom lessons. Program administration organized a team of teachers, garden instructors, standards specialists, and school garden curriculum consultants last year to create the first of its kind, district-wide comprehensive Garden-Based Learning Curriculum. The Curriculum connects directly to Next Generation Science and Common Core State Standards, CA Nutrition Education Standards, Environmental Education Standards, and Tool Box.

The Curriculum is a critical component to a whole child education and provides unique tailoring of instructional support for the individual student and the class. The Curriculum is designed for lessons to be co-taught to a full class with a garden instructor and a classroom teacher, per California law that requires students to be with a certified teacher during the school day. There are 17 lessons for each grade that are oriented according to applicability in our many divergent school gardens, seasonality, and grade and standard appropriateness.

Fundraising Events

Celebrate Food Systems and Education at Our Annual Gala!

On May 1, 2015, we will celebrate our unique Berkeley garden-based education at our Second Annual Gala held at the International House on the UC Berkeley 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, Andronico’s Community Markets, and many volunteers. We’ll be celebrating food systems and education right with seasonal farm-to-table fare, regional drinks and cocktails, and music from Berkeley High School Jazz musicians. Don’t miss this party! You can purchase tickets here.

Dine Out with Us!

Thank you for joining us on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 for the Valentine’s Wine Walk in the Gourmet Ghetto. We appreciate your support, and the support from all of the generous wineries and stores that donated their delicious products and time.
Thank you for joining us on Thursday, November 13, 2014 when 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.

Social Media

Follow us on Twitter @BerkeleyDineOut
Like us on Facebook

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: Attn: Jezra Thompson, 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 family friendly bar and restaurant Townie on University Ave from 4:30-7:00 pm. Our next happy hour will on on February 25th. Get to know your teachers, garden educators, and school communities in a casual environment at one of our local supporting businesses.


Our Garden-Based Learning Curriculum and Assessments

We have published our first Garden-Based Learning Curriculum with support from Edible Schoolyard Berkeley and the Atkins Center for Weight and Health. A brief Program history, an outline on the structure of the curriculum, and assessment finds are reported on in the Program Semester Reports. Click here for our Fall Semester Report!

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.

An Evaluation of the School Lunch Initiative, a California study done in 2010 by 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.

The Health Education and Behavior, a California study done in 2006, had 4,184 public school principals respond to a survey and 89% viewed academic enhancement, especially in relation to science and nutrition, as the main purpose of the garden in their school.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention reports that the physical activity improves health and reduces the risk of obesity and being overweight, as well as improves mood and mental health. Cornell University conducted a study in 2014 of elementary schools with school gardens in New York and found that in 60-minute outdoor garden-based lessons, children did a significant amount of standing, walking and kneeling in contrast to children who participated in 60-minute indoor garden-based classroom lessons spent the vast majority of the time sitting.

The CDC reports that consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risks for numerous chronic diseases,including cancer and cardiovascular disease and 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, surveyed 2,847 students in 49 high schools, and found that, “Exposure to climate science in an engaging edutainment format,” the researchers claim, “changes youths’ knowledge, beliefs, involvement, and behavior positively.”

A California Department of Education commissioned study in 1999 on the educational efficacy of environmental education reported that, “One of the strongest justifications for nutrition education and services in schools is the effect on student’s cognitive performance and their educational achievement.”

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.

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

January 29, 2014

Active Community Partners

Andronico’s Community Markets

Bay Cities Produce Co., Inc donates seasonal and fresh produce to our school gardens for student tastings in loving memory of Albert DelMasso.

Berkeley Public Schools Fund

Cancun Sabor Mexicano

Ecology Center

Edible Schoolyard Project, Berkeley

Elmwood Cafe

Green Schoolyards America

Green Schools Initiative

Jules Thin Crust Pizza

Moms Against Poverty

North Shattuck Association

Small Planet Institute

UC Berkeley Atkins Center for Weight and Health

UC Berkeley Student, Organic, Garden Association – SOGA

UC Berkeley Food Institute

Whole Foods Telegraph and Gilman

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