School Garden Resources
Growing Gardens School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training
We are excited to offer our 35 hour School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training program to share best practices for building, using and maintaining school and youth food gardening programs. By the end of this training, you will have knowledge, skills and resources to implement and maintain an edible school garden project built on a foundation of broad community involvement and support. As a trained certified Garden Coordinator, you will be equipped to support long-lasting edible school/youth garden projects and expand the capacity of the community to provide food garden-based education to children. This training has a focus on elementary school/youth programs, but can be adapted by those who work with middle or high school aged students. This training is geared for both those who have experience with school/youth gardens and those who are new to the field. Through a mix of touring school gardens, hands-on demos and guest lectures, we cover:
- Historic Context of School Gardens / Farm to School
- Community Organizing and Organizing School Garden Committees
- Fundraising and Resource Development
- Volunteer Management
- Teaching Youth Effectively/ Class Management in an Outdoor Setting
- Garden-Based Activities and Curriculum Connections
- Garden to Cafeteria
- Garden Infrastructure
- Basic Gardening Skills and Planting Plans
- Program Evaluation
For dates, details and to register, see the School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training webpage.
To be notified of future training opportunities, please add your name to this list.
Garden Education Professional Learning Community (PLC)
Information: Growing Gardens is forming a regional Professional Learning Community (PLC) for classroom teachers and garden educators to support each other in using school gardens to enhance curriculum and increase student engagement. We are recruiting up to twelve school K-8 classroom teachers, as well as professional Garden Educators, to find new ways of working together to use school gardens to meet classroom learning goals and the needs of their students. We anticipate the PLC helping teachers: 1) identify ways to use school gardens to enhance students’ knowledge, 2) create and adapt existing hands-on lessons and curriculum materials, 3) work collaboratively to align garden-based curriculum and instructional practices with new educational standards, 4) share resources and support each other in implementing new practices and, 5) find new ways of involving parents and community volunteers in students’ learning experiences. This project has been funded by the Gray Family Foundation.
“The PLC was a great way to hear about what others are doing in the garden and get ideas. It made me reconnect with some of the pieces of education that drew me to teaching in the first place- taking kids outside for learning! I also found myself using some lesson ideas I got from other teachers from the PLC, that integrated nicely into my current curriculum, such as designing garden beds to teach the concept of fractions and perimeter.” –Sharon Mendels, 2nd-3rd grade Teacher, PLC Participant
- November/December: Registration
- January – March: cohort meetings once each month on weekday evenings 5-8pm
- February – May: teachers implement garden education lessons with their classes
- May: final meeting/celebration, reflection & evaluation
More information: See this Garden Education PLC 2018 Syllabus for more information. If you have any questions, contact the instructor, Amoreena Guerrero (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Garden Education Networks
Our Youth Grow Manager coordinates the Portland Farm and Garden Educators Network – a group dedicated to farm and garden education in the community. We meet once a season to update, share resources and network, and have a list serve. Check out the Portland Farm and Garden Educators Network webpage.
Growing Gardens is also on the steering committee of the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network. Sign up on their state-wide list serve here.
School Garden Assessment
In 2016, Growing Gardens completed a regional survey of 144 schools in the Portland area to understand the breadth of school gardens, how they are used and by who. Through an online survey and follow up site visits, the study documents how school garden programs are organized, funded and sustained. It includes recommendations for school districts, administrators, teachers, volunteers and non-profits, as well as profiles of 64 school gardens. Download the full School Garden Assessment.
Resources for Starting and Running a School Garden
The links below are for anyone considering starting a school garden or for anyone who would like to use and/or maintain an existing garden.
A great place to start to connect with organizations, find curriculum and seek other resources.
School Garden Wizard was created for America’s K-12 school community through a partnership between the United States Botanic Garden and Chicago Botanic Garden. This site provides information and resources to start and sustain a school garden.
This website has information regarding funding school garden projects, activity ideas, gardening advice. It also has a very in depth store for buying books, materials and resources to support kids gardening.
This website has useful information on sustaining a school garden and has other helpful information including their Life Lab curriculum books.
This website has a link to “Gardens for Learning – Creating and Sustaining your School Garden” manual and all chapters are down loadable. The website also has a good curriculum section with 12 downloadable lesson plans.
NEW! Summer in the School Garden A resource created by Pritha Golden and Karin Pfeiffer-Hoyt for working with volunteers to maintain your school garden over the summer.
Garden signs: Print in color, laminate and attach to stakes in the garden. These are part of the Summer in the School Garden Resource English and Spanish!
Harvest Signs: Harvesting in the Garden, Red Light (Not ready to harvest), Yellow Light (Harvest some), Green Light (Ready to harvest)
Compost Signs:Compost, Green Materials, Brown Materials, Weeds Go Here, No Weeds Here
Other Signs:Recycling. Trash. Garden Farewell. Common Weeds. Water Shut-Off Reminder
School Garden Curricula
These are some of the curricula Growing Gardens’ Youth Grow program uses:
This is the lesson manual Youth Grow uses to teach after-school garden education program. In it, you will find good tips on outdoor classroom management techniques, harvesting and food safety, evaluation, thematic lessons, activities and an extensive resource list.
This curriculum developed by Oregon State University for use in its SNAP-Ed program. It is oriented to grades 2-3.
The school garden is planted and growing. There’s learning to be done. Lessons about life cycles, and living and non-living things are abundant. There are observations to be made about diversity in plants and animals, and within the environment. There is data to collect, harvests to gather, and cooking to do. Use these activities to help students eat, think, and grow. Seasonal lesson plans for K-5th grade students linked to Oregon State standards.
French Fries and the Food System by Sara Coblyn
This year-round curriculum provides kids from varied backgrounds a fertile environment in which they can develop an appreciation for the close links between farming and food systems. Lessons range from practical, hands-on activities to social and economic aspects of the food cycle. The lessons and activities are organized by seasons. This book is an excellent resource for classroom and community educators. Geared toward teenagers. 240 pages; gr 5-12.
Developed by the USDA, this curriculum includes ten inquiry-based lessons that engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables. Free printed versions available from the Dig In! website.
Developed by WSU King County Extension, this ‘Cultivating Health and Nutrition Through Garden Education (CHANGE)’ curriculum offers hands-on gardening, nutrition and cooking activities for elementary aged students. The lessons are aligned to the Washington Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALR’s) and Grade Level Expectations (GLE’s).
Garden Detectives is a curriculum guide and gardening book that helps students use their powers of observation to solve the mystery of creating a healthy garden. The language is geared for kids 10 and older, but the concepts are applicable to and easily adapted by teachers for younger children. Students explore their garden environment through 20 hands-on activities covering soil fertility, planting strategies, plant selection, composting, watering techniques, and beneficial plants and insects. The guide includes an extensive reference section on nontoxic, kid-friendly treatments for the top 10 garden pests in coastal Southern California. Perfect for home or school gardens. Spiral bound. 125 pages; gr 4-8.
Garden Mosaics by Marianne Krasny
A science education program that combines intergenerational mentoring, community action, and
understanding different cultures. Youth learn from elder community members, who share their gardening
practices, cultural backgrounds, and wisdom about their community.
Developed by the National Gardening Association and written and field-tested by educators, this complete curriculum uses fun, illustrated activities to explore plant life cycles, examine plant diversity, and investigate the interdependence of plants, humans, and other living and nonliving things. It’s a must for any plant-based studies! Meets National Science Standards; 307 pages; gr K-8.
Healthy Food from Healthy Soils by Elizabeth Patten and Kathy Lyons
Help children understand how their food choices affect not only their own health, but also farmers, the environment, and your local community. This book invites you and your students to discover where food comes from, how our bodies use food, and what happens to food waste. You’ll participate in the ecological cycle of food production, compost formation, and recycling back to the soil. Includes background information and a guide for integrating activities into the classroom. 256 pages; gr K-6.
Two manuals are available, 1 for teachers/leaders, 1 for students. Activities and information.
Teaching Peace Through Gardening by Ane Peterson (Seattle Tilth)
Calls for an expanded role of organic gardening in environmental education. Describes a successful program called Teaching Peace through Gardening at the Seattle Tilth Children’s Garden. This program advocates establishing an environment that promotes a sense of ownership, safety, community, and nurturing. (AIM)
This Life Lab book has step-by-step instructions for setting up a garden-based science program and outdoor classroom activities. Topics include working together in the garden, growing, nutrients, garden ecology, climate, nutrition, gardening tips, and food choices. The new edition includes updated content as well as an expanded gardening tips section. 496 pages.
Worms Eat Our Garbage by Mary Appelhof
This curriculum uses over 150 worm-related classroom or home activities to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in children grades 4-8. Activities integrate science, mathematics, language arts, biology, solid waste issues, ecology, and the environment. Grades 4-8
Oregon state Department of Education educational standards for Oregon schools.
Portland Area Farm Programs
These Portland area farms offer educational tours and/or on-site activities geared for youth. These programs are willing to coordinate with teachers, schools and other groups who would like to have their students visit a local farm.
Cornell Unviversity has complied a list of research studies that support garden based education.
Farm to School programs aim to connect schools with local farms with the objectives of serving healthy food, improving student nutrition, providing health and nutrition education opportunities and supporting local farms and agriculture.
Growing Gardens workshop schedule; these are great workshops for beginning gardeners.
Metro’s Natural Gardening Guide which is full of techniques to garden without chemicals.