Gardening and Cooking Program Announcements

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BUSD Gardening programOur new gardening teacher, Erica Woll, will be joining the staff soon!

Here’s a memo from BUSD Gardening Program Supervisor Jezra Thomson, who will also speak at our first PTA meeting next Wednesday.

Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year with the BUSD Gardening and Cooking Program!

I hope you have had a great first couple weeks back in school and have had a chance to spend some time in the garden. The Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program continues to engage students in hands-on instruction in the garden with lessons that directly connect to the Common Core State Standards, with an emphasis in science, English language arts, health, and well-being. The Program is woven into student life District-wide to ensure the academic, physical, emotional, and social development of all students. This year, we are not only piloting a new Garden-Based Learning Curriculum in collaboration with the Edible Schoolyard that supports teaching and learning in grades K-7th, but we are also continuing to build deeper relationships with our schools and community partners.

To expand these conversations and celebrate our Berkeley Public School education and culture, we have partnered with several local businesses and organizations to co-host many fun fundraising events this year. To start, we’ll be having happy hours on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Westbrae Beirtgarten on Gilman St. from 4:30-7:00 pm. Mark your calendar! Every $1 you spend on a liter stein of Trumer Pils will be donated to us! Get to know your colleagues, teachers, garden educators, and school communities in a casual environment at one of our local supporting businesses. We’ll have some tables in the back reserved for us, so please mention the Program when you arrive.

Stay tuned for more information about our second annual gala to be held this spring. We had so much fun at our first gala last year with generous support from local Berkeley businesses, Whole Foods on Telegraph, Andronicos, Mendocino Wine Association, CaliCraft, Pyramid Brewing, Chancellor’s Office, and the many volunteers. If you missed it, we invited the Berkeley community and beyond to join us for farm-to-table fare, drinks, a silent auction, and music from the Willard and King Middle School Ensemble. We celebrated with the well-known author and contributor to many books on sustainable food systems, Anna Blythe Lappé, and the Executive Director of the Food Institute at UC Berkeley, Ann Thrupp, both of whom shared inspiring stories about food systems and education and the importance of connecting student learning with real world experiences around food and the environment. Check out the wonderful event here.

If you’re all jazzed up by now and want to get your hands dirty with us sooner than later, please consider volunteering 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, teacher support, or event assistance, if you are interested in supporting a District-wide garden-based learning education 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, we will be provided with your contact information and will reach out shortly.

If you’re still jazzed and want to support us with your dollars, please don’t hesitate. Your financial gift will support our work in serving Berkeley students with a one-of-a-kind District-wide garden-based education. Please send your check payable to: Gardening & Cooking Program, 2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702. In the memo section of the check, please add “BUSD Gardening & Cooking Program.”

I am thrilled to be working with you all again this year in support of the Berkeley Public School Gardening and Cooking Program. I look forward to talking more with you at the Westbae Beirgarten on Wednesday, September 24th.

Warmest regards,
Jezra Thompson
Program Supervisor, Gardening & Cooking Program, Berkeley Unified School District