Back to all Project Ideas / Create or Tend a School Garden
There are many reasons to maintain a garden at school. Gardens teach students about the important role of land in our lives: providing wildlife refuge and habitat, growing vegetables and fruit for instruction or cafeteria use, and providing places to divert water from storm sewers.
On top of all of these benefits, when kids see and learn about where their veggies come from, there’s a good chance they are going to eat more of them, which could help lower obesity rates and make our children healthier. Get your hands dirty by building a garden at a school in your community. Whether they are container gardens, raised beds, fruit trees or herb gardens, school gardens serve as hands-on classrooms for students of all ages. You can use planting a garden with students as an opportunity to teach lessons about plant cycles and the environment, as well as teamwork, responsibility and nutritional values.
Measure your impact
Record the type of garden you’ve created or tended and the square footage of garden space on campus.
- Form a team of administrators, parents, teachers, students and other members of the school community who can help you set and achieve a goal for the garden. Make sure everyone knows the value of a school garden, and then work with them to create a plan. The OK Recycling Association has a great guide for creating your plan.
- School gardens can be wonderful teaching tools and inspiration for students, but they must be maintained. If you’re bringing one to your school, ensure that you have spoken to your school district staff and that there is a maintenance plan in place with the necessary resources to make it sustainable in the long-term.
- Find out what makes sense to grow at or around your school by visiting local nurseries. Do a little online digging to connect to local master gardeners via the American Horticultural Society.
- Look for community support for your garden, both for materials and for the manpower to make it happen. Reach out local companies to donate materials such as soil or gardening equipment.
- Connect student learning with sustainability action. For this topic, you can access a free module in English and Spanish for elementary students called, "Wonderful World of Plants," through the Learning Lab platform. On the website, you can find other high-quality classroom content — over 450 lessons — for teachers from kindergarten to high school. To locate more lessons about plants and food, search by theme, learning standard, teaching method, or keyword.
Additional resources for guidance and funding ideas
- Check the Green Strides portal from the Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program for updated resources from federal agencies and partners.
- Visit the National Farm to School Network web site for ideas, including their guide to starting and maintaining a school garden. October is National Farm to School Month in the U.S.
- Get help in establishing a schoolyard habitat from the National Wildlife Federation, which provides a seal of approval for wildlife habitats.
- Find funding ideas and planning help at KidsGardening.org.
- Use the Living Schoolyard Activity Guide from EcoSchools to use your school’s garden as a fun, outdoor area for physical activity.
Materials for this project
If applying for a mini-grant through the DonorsChoose.org site, these materials among others are included in the site's available vendors: