2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702
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 health development of all students to affect three main areas of student learning from preschool through high school:
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.
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 18 schools:
Early Child Education School Gardens
Elementary School Gardens
Middle School Gardens
High School Gardens
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. We share this curriculum with educators and district leaders throughout the country to make these resources available for all kids and teachers.
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.
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.”
– 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. You can order a print copy by contacting Jezra Thompson, the Program Supervisor. All sales go directly to supporting our work.
We believe that healthy habits are developed when we build lifelong skills with our kids and their families. We do this by providing nutrition and sugar awareness lessons with healthy, garden-fresh cooking activities. We provide nutrition and cooking education after school at John Muir and Thousand Oaks elementary school; and during classroom minutes at Longfellow Middle School in connection to their project-based learning in the garden curriculum. At these schools, we also host family nights, where we invite our students to bring their families into our “classrooms” to prepare and share a healthy meal, and learn a few helpful tips about added sugar. You can download our health and wellness curriculum and recipes that we teach here.
There are many external factors that influence healthy choices, particularly at our high schools. Given this, we program for entrepreneurial and internship opportunities that offer practical and lifelong skills. At Berkeley Technology Academy, students learn how to create business plans, grow, harvest, and prepare added value produces in collaboration with Growing Leaders. At Berkeley High School, we provide students connections to food systems internships and Career Technical Education credit in Public Health in collaboration with our many community partners. These projects are funded through a Healthy Berkeley grant.
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 2017-2018
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.
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’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.