“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.”
– Lady Bird Johnson
Earth Day is a worldwide celebration, encouraging citizens of the planet to take care of the land, water, and air. On the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, over 20 million people took to the streets in environmental demonstrations around the US. Months later, the United States Congress authorized the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a mission to protect human health and the environment.
Today, as the world marks Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, most students in the US, and many around the world won’t be celebrating this day on school campuses. Here in Berkeley, spending Earth Day at home doesn’t diminish the potential for student interest and activism in protecting the planet and the wellbeing of all who live on it. BUSD students can celebrate Earth Day as one community, with video visits from garden instructors from the Garden and Cooking Program.
Below is a collection of activity guides, gardener video check-ins and garden tips from BUSD’s Gardening educators. Earth Day is the perfect day to touch the earth, start a garden, or simply take note of and appreciate the beauty and importance of the nature that surrounds us in Berkeley. Learning about gardening and where food comes from also helps students consider food waste and its impact on the environment.
On Friday, April 24, Berkeley Unified Garden and Cooking Program, with the generous help of the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, will distribute a limited number of home garden kits to students most in need through the district’s meal distribution program. The kits contain soil, seeds, and instructions for planting a seed in soil using recycled materials that can be found at home.
This Earth Day, and while we shelter in place, the BUSD community can still tend our gardens together, even if we are physically at a distance. Please share these activities with your family:
Virtual Garden Tours with BUSD Garden Teachers
- Farmer Jesse and Farmer John give you a tour of the Courtyard Garden at Longfellow Middle School.
- Follow Gardener Sarah’s Garden Activity Blog, where you can find videos, how-to guides and tips, and garden lessons.
- Follow Gardener Marlee’s Cragmont Blog and BAM Blog, where students can tour these school gardens and get the lesson of the week, such as how to start a garden journal and engage in activities exploring life cycles.
- Tour the Malcolm X garden with Rivka, where she highlights the school’s compost pile and introduces some of the garden’s compost critters, including a roly poly bug that gives birth to tiny roly poly babies on Rivka’s hand.
- Farmer Colette gives an update from the Washington garden, now in full bloom. Take a look at the tiny apples beginning to form on the Pink Pearl apple tree; they’re soft and fuzzy.
- Gardener Ket reads (well really she sings) Inch by Inch the Garden Song.
Home Garden Activities
These home garden activities can all be done with items found around the house.
- Toilet Paper Tube Seed Starters
- 6 Plant Parts
- I Spy 6 Plant Parts
- Start a Nature Journal
- Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt
- Math in the Garden!
- Story time with Gardener Sarah
- Download this EPA Earth Day coloring sheet.
Gardening Tips From BUSD Garden Teachers
- Watering tips: In order to find out if your plant needs water, stick your finger deep inside the soil, if it feels wet, don’t water it, if it feels dry, give it a good drink. Do this a few times a week depending on the weather.
- Best quick harvesting veggie to plant: If you want a quick turnaround for growing veggies, plant radishes! Radishes are the fastest growing vegetable.
- When to harvest your veggies: Harvest foods (especially lettuce) in the early morning. They will be sweeter tasting from the cooler night air.
- Planting tomatoes: Tomatoes have the ability to grow roots along their stems, so when planting tomato plants, plant deep; right up to the first set of leaves! -Gardener Ket
- Planting with small space and little light: Herbs, such as oregano and mint don’t need much to thrive other than a container with adequate drainage, water, and light for half the day.