BUSD’s schoolyards are dynamic, multi-use, nature-filled public spaces that improve the well-being of children and the environment at the same time.
Edible Teaching Gardens
Green Schoolyard Projects
Across Berkeley Unified School District, our 17 schools serve approximately 9,400 students on 100 acres of land. A substantial portion of that land is dedicated to schoolyards. The typical American schoolyard is paved with asphalt that absorbs and retains heat, exposing students to unhealthy high temperatures that have become more frequent due to climate change.
In response to this dilemma, the District began to reimagine what schoolyards could be if they included native trees, edible gardens, and natural play spaces. Today we are well on our way to transforming paved-over schoolyards into natural learning laboratories. Below you will find a brief overview of the green schoolyard projects we are most proud of.
Washington Elementary School
Washington Elementary School is considered the first school in the District to receive an environmental schoolyard. Beginning in 1970, the designers in collaboration with students transformed a concrete jungle into a lush, naturalized environment. In fact, a book was written by the yard’s designer, Robin C Moore–in collaboration with Herbert Wong–called Natural Learning: The Life History of an Environmental Schoolyard. While the project has gone through many iterations, the redwood forest still stands and provides a play space for all Washington students.
John Muir Elementary School
John Muir Elementary School sits nestled among an old redwood grove and Harwood Creek. To provide students with an opportunity to learn among these natural spaces, we have built a wooden deck that overlooks the grove and an outdoor classroom beside the creek.
Berkeley Arts Magnet School
The once large blacktop schoolyard has been transformed into a diverse natural play space filled with trees, logs and rocks for seatings, edible garden beds, and picnic tables
Cragmont Elementary School
Cragmont Elementary School is located in the North Berkeley Hills with beautiful views of the SF Bay Area. Its lush schoolyard is home to a Miyawaki forest with numerous native trees, a school garden, and a green soccer field.
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School is the largest middle school in Berkeley, California. For over 20 years the Edible Schoolyard Project engages hundreds of students each year in hands-on kitchen and gardening classes.
In the Fall of 2021, King became home to a student-planted Miyawaki forest with a total of 2,600 plants and trees with 53 native species.
Berkeley Technology Academy and Berkeley Independent Study
In the Fall of 2022, the Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) and Berkeley Independent Study (BIS) community took part in planting the District’s 4th Miyawaki Forest. This forest will not only restore biodiversity on campus but will provide an outdoor learning environment for students in both programs
These projects are funded through Measure H, a special tax that supports the BUSD Maintenance Department.