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
Gardening & Cooking during the school facilities closure:
Food Access During COVID-19 Containment Period:
During school closures we are continuing to operate the Berkeley Technology Academy Food Pantry with our partners, Berkeley Food Network. Community members can pick up fresh produce, protein and eggs, frozen prepared foods, and packaged goods there. Our school gardens are donating an estimated 50 lbs of fresh produce each month. The pantry is in service every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm at 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
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
Our Mission is to support these three pillars:
Academic Achievement: Garden and Cooking 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 through project-based learning.
Garden-Based Learning Curriculum
Distance Learning Resources
During the school facilities closure, students receive distance learning garden lessons. Students log onto zoom to join their instructor in exploring planting seeds using recycled materials, nature journaling, and exploring life cycles. We have developed revised garden lessons for distance learning and made them available for free download!
Your Gardening and Cooking Teachers Take You on a Virtual Tour with Activities and Videos
- Gardening and Cooking Team Distance Learning Website.
- Farmer Jesse’s and Farmer John’s Spring Garden Tour.
- Cooking Class Quick Pickles and Recipes and Ratios.
Thousand Oaks and Oxford
- Gardener Sarah’s Garden Activity Blog.
Cragmont and BAM
- Cragmont and BAM Garden Websites.
- Marlee’s Cragmont Garden Lesson of the Week and BAM Garden Lesson of the Week.
- Rivka’s Spring Garden Tour, Compost Critter Exploration, Fava Bean and Ladybugs, and Plants and Caterpillars.
- Colette’s Spring Garden Update and Tour.
- Gardener Ket’s Inch by Inch Read Aloud, Fava Bean Investigation at Jefferson School Garden, and In the Bunny Cage.
- Farmer Ben’s Spanish Garden Lessons, Tres Semillas de Profundidad, Partes de Plantas, y Cosecha los rábanos.
- Transplanting Seedlings
- Garden Pickles
Gardening and Cooking at Home Activities
- 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
- Nitrogen Cycle Map
- Making Herb Tea
Top 5 Tips for Home Gardening
We will tend our gardens together, even at a distance.
- 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.
- What to plant if you want to eat something growing in the garden now: 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 plant them right up to the first set of leaves!
- 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.
Want to download our full Garden-Based Learning Curriculum for elementary school?
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. The structure of each lesson is It is designed to be an interactive teaching tool, co-taught with classroom teachers and garden instructors as leads. 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
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.
Most lessons in the curriculum have a compatible workbook page. You can download workbooks by grade here:
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
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.
We invite students to try delicious, seasonal fruits and veggies found growing in the garden and practice tasty ways to reduce sugar and sweetened beverage consumption. Nutrition and cooking educators teach lessons reinforced with healthy cooking activities after school at select elementary schools and during the academic day in kitchen classrooms at our middle schools and high 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 our teaching spaces to connect over a healthy meal.
6 FAMILY NIGHTS EACH YEAR
37% SAID THEY WOULD REDUCE SUGAR INTAKE AFTER WHAT THEY LEARNED IN OUR FAMILY 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. This year-long course focuses 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 where we place students with public health organizations working on projects in Berkeley, including our work in our school gardens and with Berkeley Food Network to co-host bi-weekly food pantries at both high schools.
14 students completed 442 hours in paid internships in public health.
All students have earned a professional certificate in Food Safety during a unit on food-borne illnesses.
Food Pantries Available Free to the Public
We are continuing to operate the Berkeley Technology Academy Food Pantry and Berkeley High School Food Pantry with our partners, Berkeley Food Network. Community members can pick up fresh produce, protein and eggs, frozen prepared foods, and packaged goods. Staff also coordinate with our school gardens to safely harvest and make available fresh produce and herbs. The pantry is in service every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm at 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month from 2:30-4:00 pm at Alston Way between Milvia and MLK.
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
These projects are funded through a Healthy Berkeley grant, and matching dollars from BUSD.
Your financial gift will support our work in serving BUSD students in the gardens and kitchen classrooms. We rely on generous donations to provide additional support for innovative projects that uplift students learning. 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.