Gardening and Cooking Program

2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702
Tel: 510.644.6710 | Fax: 510.644.8815
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Jezra Thompson, Program Supervisor
Mia Villanueva, Program Coordinator

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 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 across grades and lessons for instructional scaffolding. It is designed as an interactive teaching tool to be 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.

You can download a PDF copy of the complete curriculum here. You can order a print copy here, and a percentage of sales goes directly to supporting our work. Contact Jezra Thompson, the Program Supervisor, if you are interested in print copies of specific grades or in Spanish.

Health and Wellness After School Project

This year, we are piloting a Health and Wellness project at four after school sites, LeConte, Thousand Oaks, Longfellow, and Berkeley Technology Academy. We are also supporting our families at these schools with some delicious and nutritious evening and Saturday events. We are working to affect change by building lifelong skills with our kids and their families to help us all live healthy and active lives, and we are having lots of fun along the way. We do this by providing two hours of nutrition and sugar awareness lessons with healthy, garden-fresh cooking activities each week at each school. This pilot is funded through the City of Berkeley with the soda tax.

Try our Apple Pear Salsa and Tomato Cucumber Gazpacho recipes!


We report on Program events and updates, as well as revenue, at the end of every semester. Click on the links below for a brief Program history, an outline of our Garden-Based Learning Curriculum, and assessment projects and results. We report on all fundraisers, including Dine Out, in our Semester Reports.

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

Thank you for celebrating a Garden and Nutrition Education with us at our community fundraisers!
We had a great time with you all during our Fall Berkeley Dine Out on December 1st!

We partner with local restaurants and businesses throughout Berkeley to co-host a food-filled day and night in support of a garden-based learning education from preschool through high school and nutrition cooking activities after school at Berkeley Public Schools. We invite you and your friends and families to Dine Out at participating restaurants, who in turn donate a percentage of sales directly to support this work at all of our schools. You can find updated lists of participating restaurants, event pictures, and fun Dine Out tips here.

We look forward to Dining Out with you again at our Downtown, South Berkeley, and Elmwood partnering restaurants during our Spring Dine Out on April 20th!

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.

Sustainability Projects We Facilitate

We lead District-wide initiatives for waste reduction and co-facilitate school site sustainability projects with the Facilities and Maintenance Departments, and with support from Green Schools Initiative and an Altamont Project Grant. We strive to incorporate sustainability concepts and practices into our Program and throughout the District.

News and Media

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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