Edible Schoolyard Garden Culture
Student Engagement
Place of Learning: 

ESY Berkeley Teaching Staff
Edible Schoolyard Project
Berkeley, CA

The routines that students and teachers follow create a responsive garden classroom environment that fosters access for all students.
Student Rituals and Routines

In the garden, we have established the following rituals and routines so that students know what to do when they come to garden class. Students:

  1. Arrive quietly to the Ramada and take a seat, ready for opening circle
  2. Can reference the job board for the lesson of the day, garden jobs, and the closing circle activity.
  3. Hear brief descriptions of each garden job on the board from garden teachers.
  4. Choose the right tool for the right job from the tool shed.
  5. Know the ring of the cowbell signifies that they should:
    • Clean and put back tools in the tool shed (tools with red tape outside, tools with yellow tape inside).
    • Head back to the Ramada for closing circle.
  6. Participate in tastings:
    • Wait until everyone is served.
    • 6th grade: Share his/her name and a description of the tasting based on the five senses.
    • 7th and 8th grade: Share his/her name and create a simile about the tasting using the five senses.
Garden Teacher Rituals and Routines

As garden teachers, we have established a set of rituals and routines for every garden class so that students know what to expect. Garden teachers:

  1. Write garden jobs and/or the lesson of the day on the job board prior to class and hang the job board in the Ramada for all to see.
  2. Welcome students as they arrive to the Ramada.
  3. Share leadership in facilitating opening and closing circles.
  4. Ask check-in questions in small circle groups that set the tone.
  5. Ring the cowbell to signify clean-up and closing circle.
  6. Check-in with classroom teachers after every garden class.
Student Buy-In

With the following practices, we aim to instill a sense of ownership and love for the garden in each student:

  1. Engage the senses!
    • Woo students by enjoying food from the garden with activities such as cooking papas fritas and wood-fired beets as well as pressing apple cider.
    • Grow many crops for foraging in multiple seasons and facilitate picking.  Some examples include strawberries, mulberries, loquats, raspberries, ground cherries, figs, pineapple guavas, sorrel, sugar snap peas, carrots, celery.
    • Harvest-to-Home giveaway: Before the last bell of the day rings, set up a table in front of the school with harvested crops from the garden and grocery bags.  Students are able to fill their bags with produce to take home. (We hold our Harvest-to-Home giveaway the day before Thanksgiving break).
  2. Lesson and crop timing
    • Hold garden classes during different times of the year to allow students to experience seasonality and the progression of fruits and vegetables from seed to table.
    • Coordinate crop planning with kitchen program.
    • Facilitate students planting and/or harvesting ingredients for their kitchen classes.
    • Plan ahead by timing the planting of crops that are used in kitchen lessons.
  3. Students use real tools for real jobs authentic to the needs of the garden.
  4. Students choose the working group they would like participate in based on the descriptions from each garden teacher.
Encouraging Success

In the garden we empower students to make decisions and encourage them to be their best selves.

Garden teachers:

  1. Set high and clear expectations with the “Respect in the Garden” poster.  
  2. Recognize the spectrum of LGBTQ/gender identities and understand the importance of creating a safe and inclusive classroom setting.
  3. Eliminate barriers to participation by providing protective gear like boots, gloves, aprons, knee-pads, and ponchos to help everyone feel comfortable and prepared.
  4. Provide diverse garden jobs that appeal to every student. (For example: sign painting for artsy students, mulching for high-energy students, and propagation for mellow students)
  5. Break up the class into small working groups that are spread out in the garden.
  6. Encourage students to pick the garden job that appeals to him or her most with open-mindedness.
  7. Maintain a level of flexibility and adaptability based on the needs of the students.  Whenever possible, say “Yes”.
  8. Encourage appropriate play such as wheelbarrow rides, with the understanding that a certain amount of risk in play is beneficial.
  9. Reward students with more responsibility and give students an empowering task when they seem to be off task.
  10. Offer precise praise as much as possible.
  11. Ask for student input whenever possible.
We Are Committed To Developing Our Cultural Humility

Individually and organizationally, we explore the impact of culture and identity on the schooling experience, examine the influence of race, power, and privilege on the educational process, and seek culturally responsive pedagogy and practices to ensure access for all students, especially those historically underserved by the educational system. We aim to create physical and emotional spaces that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our community.

  1. Purposefully utilizing activities that affirm and validate the backgrounds, cultures, languages, and experiences of the students
  2. Providing protocols for discussion and participation that facilitate the validation and affirmation of cultural behaviours in the garden classroom
  3. Engaging students in activities which tap into their personal learning styles
Conflict Resolution

The above strategies of Encouraging Success are a proactive approach to preventing conflict and allowing students to show up as their best selves. However, when conflict does arise we use the principles of Restorative Justice to find resolution.

Restorative Questions: to help those affected
  1. What did you think when you realized what had happened?
  2. What impact has this incident had on you and others?
  3. What has been the hardest thing for you?
  4. What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
Restorative Questions: To respond to challenging behavior
  1. What happened?
  2. What were you thinking/feeling at the time?
  3. What have you thought about since?
  4. Who has been affected by what you have done?
  5. In what way have they been affected?
  6. What do you think you need to do to make things right?
Safe and Inclusive Space

Gender isn’t binary. It’s not either/or. In many cases it’s both/and.  As educators we believe it’s our responsibility to ensure a safe and inclusive space for all students. We use the below graphic, “Genderbread Person”, as a quick guide to understanding gender. See Genderbread Person visual aid.