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School Garden

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Overview

Transform a schoolyard space into a garden! A school garden is a wonderful way for students to physically connect with nutrition education, understand the process of growing healthy foods, and recognize environmental stewardship. A school garden can also be integrated into many subjects such as math, science, health, literacy and social studies.

Take Action

A school garden takes some planning, but the effort is worth the reward. Here are some steps to start a school garden:

  • Secure support from your school administration. Highlight the personal nutrition benefits and the crossover with various academic subjects.
  • Identify a location for the garden. The garden may begin as a container garden if there is not space available or if a “start small” approach is needed.
  • Budget for resources. There are many organizations that grant financial support for the investment of school gardens (like Action for Healthy Kids – Check out our grant opportunities).
  • Recruit a small group of adult volunteers and older students to oversee garden activities. If you already have a school health team, form a garden subcommittee.
  • Determine a plan for the garden. Will every class have a plot? What seeds will each class plant? When will garden activities take place? How will teachers be involved? Will garden activities complement classroom lessons?
  • When ready, implement your plan! Check in regularly as a team to identify successes and challenges.

 

Inclusion Tips

All students with any disabilities can participate in the school garden project in some way, since there are many different types of tasks and various ways to adapt to accomplish them. They may need extra direction to follow the plan or accommodations for lifting lesser amounts of weight or digging with trowels rather than shovels, filling buckets rather than carrying them. They can help with placing strings for boundaries and rows of plants; fill pots with soil, pull weeds with direction. They may work with other students or adult leaders who can help them focus and follow directions as needed. Students who have disabilities that involve following directions, self-management, or personal behavior anomalies must be supervised when using equipment or materials with safety risks.

Tips

Involve as many students as possible in harvesting to experience the growing process from beginning to end. This can be challenging if crops are harvested in the summer – Consider planning a harvest celebration around back-to-school time or planting a fall or spring garden (when produce is ready to harvest during the school year).

Use your harvest to have a taste test!

Incorporate science concepts of plant biology or writing skills by having students write about the garden and the importance of good nutrition.

Strive to ensure that students are engaging with the garden at least twice per month, either through being out in the garden or garden-based lesson plans.

Host a weekend volunteer event to help you get started. Invite school and community members to help construct planter beds, fill pots with soil and plant seeds.

Recruit a small group of adult volunteers to oversee the garden activities of students; this may be a garden club or before/after school group of interested students.

Have volunteers assist with garden maintenance during the summer – weeding, watering and trimming.