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 Specialist
The Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program is woven into student life District-wide to ensure the academic, physical, emotional, and social development of all students from preschool through high school. We engage all learners with hands-on instruction as they cultivate positive relationships with the world around them and their peers.
Our goal is to enable and inspire our diverse student body to achieve academic excellence and make positive contributions to our world!
17 School Gardens
2 CTE Public Health Programs
4 Kitchen Classrooms
The Program is woven into student life District-wide to ensure the academic, physical, emotional, and health development of all students from preschool through high school.
Academic Achievement: Garden educators work closely with teachers to bring classroom learning to life in the garden with a place-based, interdisciplinary, and experiential approach to the academic standards.
Increased Health: 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: Students practice cultural competence and language development as they cultivate positive relationships with the world around them and their peers.
Garden-Based Learning Curriculum
We’ve developed a Garden-Based Learning Curriculum, © Berkeley Unified School District, that directly supports academic learning and teaching goals for Next Generation Science and Common Core State Standards in collaboration with teachers. By utilizing a place-based, interdisciplinary, and experiential approach to engaging all learners, garden educators bring learning to life. These hands-on lessons 1) connect academics to real-world experiences; 2) include all learners; 3) invite curiosity; and 4) provide opportunities for reflection. Each lesson is free for download on our website.
Every student is in the garden with full classes twice a month
It is designed to be an interactive teaching tool, co-taught with classroom teachers and garden instructors as leads. We share this curriculum with educators and district leaders throughout the country to make these resources available for all kids and teachers.
Garden is a magical place, great that kids get to see it develop over the year, do so many tastings, and activities in the packets are great. Instructor clearly loves her work and showing what she knows to kids.”
– BUSD Classroom Teacher
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.
We have 4 Garden Specialists who teach in 8 gardens from TK-8th grade. We use the Berkeley curriculum daily in our lessons. We have enjoyed many of the hands on activities and the “workbooks” which we have turned into garden journals. Some of our favorite activities are the water cycle, composition of soil, beneficial and non-beneficial insects (always a hit with the students) and FBI.”
– Garden Coordinator, Ukiah Unified School District.
You can download the curriculum workbooks we designed to support each garden lesson below.
Garden Based Learning Curriculum Workbooks by Grade:
We promote health and nutrition with opportunities to taste delicious, seasonal fruits and veggies found growing in the garden, and practice ways to reduce sugar and sweetened beverage consumption. We teach nutrition lessons reinforced with healthy cooking activities after school at select elementary schools and during the academic day in kitchen classrooms at our middle schools. These hands-on lessons 1) reduce sugar intake; 2) increase vegetable, whole fruit, and water consumption; 3) engage creativity and responsibility; and 4) provide skill-building tools to last a lifetime.
I learned how to check if there are added sugars or natural sugars in your beverage by looking at the ingredients on the bottle.”
– Middle School Student
Engaging our communities with students and families builds life-long healthy habits. We welcome families into these teaching spaces with opportunities to advocate for nutrition and healthy choice making while connecting over a healthy meal.
LAST YEAR, 37% SAID THEY WOULD REDUCE SUGAR INTAKE AFTER CLASS
Career Technical Education in Public Health
Students at Berkeley High School and Berkeley Technology Academy are offered courses in Career Technical Education in public health, focused on career and learning opportunities for better understanding diet-related disease and local policy intended to curtail health inequities. Students practice communication and collaboration skills, while building confidence as problem-solvers. This includes work-based learning opportunities with paid internships supporting public health organizations and projects in Berkeley, including our work with Berkeley Food Network to co-host bi-monthly food pantries at both high schools.
All students have earned a professional certificate in Food Safety during a unit on food-borne illnesses.
These projects are funded through a Healthy Berkeley grant.
Reports and Special Committees
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.
- Annual Report for 2017-2018
- Annual Report for 2016-2017
- Spring 2016 Semester Report
- Fall 2015 Semester Report
- Spring 2015 Semester Report
- Fall 2014 Semester Report
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.”
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
Bay Area Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes: An Evaluation of Community Investments, a policy analysis published by Berkeley Food Institute on Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, and San Francisco’s soda tax revenue spending.
Delicious Revolution is a podcast that interviews leaders about revolutionary projects in food, farming, and education. On 3/27/17, they published a conversation featuring our Supervisor, Jezra Thompson, and Cooking Instructor, Rebecca Murillo, 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.
We have a generous grant from the City of Berkeley through Healthy Berkeley.
When we lost all of our California Nutrition Network funding in 2012 and 2013, we partnered with our Berkeley community and local businesses to fill in the funding gaps with fundraisers. Thank you Berkeley community for continuing to support us!
We pilot new nutrition education projects.