Berkeley, CA, USA
Outdoor Classrooms for East Bay Students
SUGi partners with schools across the globe to plant ultra-dense, biodiverse forests closer to the classroom. Berkeley, California will be home to the first three Miyawaki School Forests in the United States.
Students at Cragmont Elementary will not only benefit from the direct health effects of urban forests, but learning in nature improves a child’s behaviour, helps them build stronger relationships, reduces stress and anger, and heightens curiosity.
Even seeing nature from a school building fosters creative thinking and expands the imagination.
Today’s kids spend a whopping 44 hours a week in front of a screen and less than 10 minutes a day playing outside. Access to nature is not equal; it’s too often dictated by where you live, your race and income level. These forests will be a big leap forward in resetting the balance.
Forest Maker Ethan Bryson
Forest Report: 1 Year
Survival Rate: 98%
Average of Tallest 3 Trees: 365cm
This forest has given students a sense of hope and agency in the face of an alarming acceleration towards the climate crisis. After the planting day last year, students commented: ‘It was the best day of my life.’ Many of the pupils named their plants and, even after a year, still remember exactly which tree they planted and where it was.
The growth of the trees has been exponentially greater than what we could have ever imagined. The forest is now so dense that one can hardly walk through it, and the trees are so tall, you can barely see the tops!
"As the science and climate literacy teacher at Cragmont, it makes me extremely proud to see this tiny project blossoming and bringing so much hope and pure beauty to so many people."
- Neelam Patil, SUGi Forest Maker
Prior to planting, the students would run across the site. It was uncared for, discarded, and unhealthy. Now there are ladybugs, butterflies, bees, and the soil is much healthier and full of life. Local hummingbirds - including Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) come for a snack, and the local flora and fauna is making a resurgence in the area.
“I can't say enough about how important this project is for our community and for our children. Most of the time, we just feel powerless as we watch the planet get hotter and experience longer and longer fire seasons in California. This is a very specific and progressive way to sink carbon and change the direction of the planet's temperature rise. I'm excited to include this solution in my curriculum this school year and beyond.“
— Ms. Neelam Patil, M.Ed., MFA, Science Teacher at Cragmont and Oxford Elementary Schools
Forest Report: Planting