Gardening and Cooking Program

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

The Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program engages students with hands-on instruction in the garden. As part of the 2020 Vision and the District’s Integrated Wellness Policy, the Program is woven into student life District-wide to ensure the academic, physical, emotional, and social development of all students to affect three main areas of student learning from preschool 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:

With support from community partners, 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

We’ve developed a Garden-Based Learning Curriculum, © Berkeley Unified School District, that connects the school gardens to classroom lessons. The curriculum builds upon many years of educating our students in the garden and scales up content and lessons for instructional scaffolding across grades. It is designed to be an interactive teaching tool, co-taught with classroom teachers and garden instructors as leads. Each lesson connects directly to standards: Next Generation Science, Common Core State, Physical Education, and Environmental and Health Education. Our concise and easy-to-follow lessons are a packed 45 minutes for preschool through fifth grade with many activities to choose from for best fits.

You can download a PDF copy of the Second Edition Garden-Based Learning, published in September 2017, for preschool-kindergarten here, for first-third grades here, and for fourth-fifth grades here. You can also download our Monthly Recipes book here. You can order a print copy by contacting Jezra Thompson, the Program Supervisor. All sales go directly to supporting our work.


We report on Program events, updates, and revenue, in our program reports. Click on the links below for a brief Program history, an outline of our Garden-Based Learning Curriculum, and assessment projects and results.

Click here for our Annual Report for 2016-2017
Click here for our Spring 2016 Semester Report
Click here for our Fall 2015 Semester Report
Click here for our Spring 2015 Semester Report
Click here for our Fall 2014 Semester Report

School Lunch Initiative, A project of BUSD in collaboration with Chez Panisse Foundation (now known as the Edible Schoolyard Project) and the Center for Ecoliteracy, that looks at the connections between school lunch with student gardens, kitchen classrooms, and academic classrooms.

Fundraising Events

We celebrate our Berkeley community, students, families, educators, and businesses with Dine Out fundraisers. During these events we invite you and your family to Dine Out at participating local businesses, who in turn generously donate a percentage of sales directly to support over 7000 kids in 17 school gardens and 5 kitchen classrooms.

We had our Fall Dine Out on Thursday, November 30th, thanks to your patronage and the generous support of our restaurant partners!. You can find the updated lists of participating restaurants, event pictures, and fun Dine Out tips here.

We are planning for our Spring Dine Out on April 19, 2018! Are you a restaurant owner or manager? Email us above and let us know if you would like to participate! As always, please share your Dine Out experiences with us on our Twitter and 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.

News and Media

Delicious Revolution is a podcast that interviews leaders about revolutionary projects in food, farming, and education. On 3/27/17, they published a show featuring our Supervisor, Jezra Thompson, and Cooking Instructor, Rebecca Murillo. It’s a great conversation about food systems education, the success of our Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program, and how we support whole child development in our school gardens and kitchen classrooms. You can listen to the whole thing from their website. You can also listen anywhere people listen to podcasts: soundcloud, stitcher, google play music, etc.

We’ve published the first district-wide garden-based learning curriculum for preschool through fifth grade.

We have a generous grant from the City of Berkeley through Measure D.

We partner with our Berkeley community and beyond to fill in the funding gaps with fundraisers.

We pilot new nutrition education projects.

Social Media


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