Berkeley Unified School District Gardening and Cooking Program

Program Type: 
Garden Classrooms, Kitchen Classrooms
Grade Level/Age Group: 
Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School
Number of Individuals Program Serves: 
6,000
Year Founded: 
2014
About the Program: 

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:

Academic Achievement:

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.

Increased Health:

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.

Program Members: 

Program Resources

This lesson gets students to practice sorting, organizing, and making lists while in the natural environment. It introduces the idea that we eat seeds, and we also use them to make other plants, thus more seeds.
Grade: 
Pre-K
Progression:
1 of 2
This lesson introduces the plant parts, highlighting the parts that are edible and those that are not. It also informs students about how to safely and respectfully pick and taste plants growing in our gardens.
Grade: 
Pre-K
Progression:
2 of 2
This lesson invites students to experience soil and get to know the living critters that live in it, and the nonliving things that make up soil. These activities can be taught indoors with large butcher paper on the floors.
Grade: 
1
Progression:
1 of 3
In this lesson, students learn about the organisms that decompose organic matter.
Grade: 
1
Progression:
2 of 3
In this lesson, students learn about worm anatomy and explore the role that worms play in developing healthy soil.
Grade: 
1
Progression:
3 of 3
This lesson is designed to be a two part lesson that can be taught over several days.
Grade: 
2
This lesson builds on measurements in the garden, focusing on designing and measuring garden harvest.
Grade: 
2
Progression:
2 of 2
This lesson introduces the topic that plants need nutrients, particularly nitrogen, in additional to light, air, water, and soil. The activities teach students that nitrogen comes from many different places, including the air, soil, other plants, and animals.
Grade: 
3
Progression:
1 of 3
This lesson introduces students to decomposition. The class will create a clear container to house various items and will check back over the course of the school year to record each item’s state of decomposition.
Grade: 
3
Progression:
2 of 3
This lesson builds upon past lessons on decomposition and plant nutrients. The activities dive deeper into the importance of compost in providing nutrients for plants.
Grade: 
3
Progression:
3 of 3
This lesson builds upon the previous lessons introducing the process of photosynthesis, focusing on light absorption by leaves to make their own food.
Grade: 
4
This lesson builds upon past content students learned about how plants need light. The activities invite students to test a plants’ leaf ability to absorb light in the absence of light.
Grade: 
4
This lesson introduces students to the concept of photosynthesis, starting with understanding the role light plays in helping plants make food. The activities invite students to experiment with light absorption by plant leaves.
Grade: 
4
This food system lesson introducesthe concept that there are processes for getting food to the fork. It can be paired with a science and/or humanities lesson on ancient culture’s methods for processing grains.
Grade: 
5
Progression:
1 of 3
This lesson reviews how scientists organize the natural environment according to specific plant features and Plant Families.
Grade: 
5
Progression:
2 of 3
This lesson builds on past content students learned about plant parts and functions. The activities review each part and then invite students to taste a new vegetable or fruit growing in the garden.
Grade: 
5
Progression:
3 of 3