Category Archives: Instructional Activities

Tips to Get a School Garden Grant

Grants, fundraisers and donations all come in handy to help our school gardens grow. While the success of donation drives and fundraisers depend to a large extent on people you know and interact with, like parents of students, local merchants and business houses, grants are more formal in nature. They are awarded by either public entities like local, state and federal governments or by private organizations and foundations.

The process of applying for grants is a little more complicated than seeking donations or holding fundraisers, but when you know what has to be done and do it diligently and thoroughly, you’ll have a much better chance of securing the funding that you need. If you’re thinking of applying for a school garden grant here are a few pointers to help you in the process:

• Apply only for those grants that fit your garden aims and needs.
• Read the rules thoroughly before you start filling in the application forms.
• Learn more about the agency that is funding the grant and find out about the previous grants they’ve awarded (or rejected).
• Fill in the application form as professionally as you can, following instructions to the letter. A school garden may be a small project, but you must approach the issue of seeking a grant with a certain amount of professionalism.
• State the facts without going overboard on details unless asked for.
• Make sure your application is free of errors, both factual and grammatical.
• If supporting documents like letters of recommendation are required, make sure you attach them to the application form.
• Send in your proposal well before the due date. Some grants have a send-by date as a deadline rather than a receive-by date. Read the application form properly to avoid being disqualified over such trivialities.
• If the grant is not forthcoming, don’t be disheartened; instead, try again at other sources.

School Garden Grant Opportunities
1) California School Garden Network (comprehensive list)

2) Calendar of School Garden Grants

3) Grant Opportunities from

4) California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC Network)

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of California teaching certificate. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Today’s gardeners borrow from yesterday

This is brilliant!

"bird" scarecrow

Birds a problem in the garden? Make a bird “scarecrow” with feathers and a potato; hang it in the garden. RENEE BONNAFON /

Click here for complete article

More school garden reading

Summertime also means extra reading time for educators. has an entire section just for teachers. They include:

1) How to do Gardening Science Fair Projects

2) How To Plan a Garden for Kids

3) How To Grow Plants in the Classroom

4) How To Incorporate Gardening into Kindergarten and First Grade Curriculum

5) How To Garden Safely with Children at Home or in School

6) How To Get Grant Money for a School Gardening Project

7) How To Choose Plants Kids Will Love to Grow in Their Classroom Project

8) How To Get Started with a School Garden Project

10 Gardening Books Guaranteed to Interest your Kids

10 Gardening Books Guaranteed to Interest your Kids

It’s proven to be therapeutic and a good form of mild exercise, it showcases the results of your hard work in the form of beautiful flowers and nutritious vegetables, and it beautifies your house in the most natural way – gardening is not just a hobby but an art that requires concentration and patience. It’s fun for kids and a great way to spend time outdoors this summer. So if you’re planning on taking your first gardening steps soon, here are a few books that will guide you along the way to a colorful and beautiful garden:

• Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert: This book introduces children to the rudiments of growing colorful flowers of various varieties.
• The Gardening Book by Jane Bull: A book that offers gardening projects for children who are able to garden without adult supervision.
• From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons: This book teaches kids about the various stages of development a plant goes through and also includes directions and instructions to grow beans.
• A Handful of Dirt by Raymond Bial: A book that educates kids on the role that plain old dirt plays in the development of plants.
• Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy: This book combines instructions for theme gardens and the best plants for children to grow and look after.
• Kids Gardening: A Kid’s Guide to Messing Around in the Dirt/With Seeds, Shovel by Kevin Raftery and Kim Gilbert Raftery: The title of this book is self-explanatory – it shows how kids can have fun with gardening activities.
• The Kids Can Press Jumbo Book of Gardening by Jane Kurisu: This book teaches children to grow organic gardens in small spaces like backyards and balconies.
• New Junior Garden Book by Felder Rushing: This book is for kids who are budding gardeners and includes complete project activities both outdoor and indoor purposes.
• Gardening with Children by Beth Richardson: A book that teaches parents to get their children interested and involved in gardening.
• A Guide to Happy Family Gardening by Tammerie Spires: This book gets the whole family involved in gardening projects that are easy to implement.

This guest post is written by Heather Johnson, who frequently writes on the subject of online college degrees. She welcomes your comments and freelance writing inquiries at:

Week 36 – Spring Harvest and Planting Peanuts

We had out first spring harvest this week: round 8-ball squash the size of tennis balls, dark green zucchinis with flowers still intact and tender green beans that also grew yellow and purple (anything colorful is always a big hit).

With only five weeks left in the school year it is too late to start anything new (though you probably could squeeze in a crop of radishes or lettuce). However for school gardens with year round access we’re just getting to the sweet spot. We’re planting heat lovers like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and peanuts. Peanuts? I never grew them before, I couldn’t resist.

Last week I’m at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and I happened upon Hayward Organic Gardening’s stall of vegetable seedlings. They were selling peanuts in 4” containers for $3.00 (Note: 3 to a container, if you’re careful with transplanting, that’s only a buck a piece, and you do want to separate them). Peanuts need a lot of room to grow (I’ve seen recommendations for spacing at 18” apart in rows 3ft apart) and they need a lot of time to grow (Days to Maturity is 130-140).

If someone didn’t tell me these were peanuts I’d swear they were peas. Botanically speaking they are more pea than nut. Nuts grow on trees, peanuts grow in pods which then get submerged into the soil where they remain until harvest. A member of the Legume family, they are a close relative of black-eyed peas. Can’t wait to watch them develop.

For more about the peanut see:
1) Growing Peanuts in the Home Garden – Iowa State University
2) The Incredible Peanut – Southern Illinois University

3) Can’t talk about peanuts without mentioning George Washington Carver.
Read about his life and legacy (also from Iowa State University)

Week 30 – The Three Sisters Garden

At Dorsey High School we are recreating a Three Sisters Garden as practiced by Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

The three sisters are: corn, pole beans, and squash. Typically they are all interplanted in a hill (or mound) to compliment one another.

Corn provides support for beans, which in turn provides nitrogen for the corn and squash. The squash grows along the ground acting like living mulch suppressing weeds and minimizing evaporation.

The corn and squash should be planted first, followed by the beans once the corn is about 8-12 inches. The beans are planted in a ring around each corn stalk.

One practice we will not be recreating is the planting of fish or eel with our seeds. Native Americans often did this to provide extra nitrogen to the soil. Thankfully we now have a product known as fish emulsion, which is an organic fertilizer that supplies the same nutrients as the raw variety.

For more information on the Three Sisters garden
Please see:
1) Creating a Three Sister Garden-Discovering a Native Trio from and;

2) Celebrate the Three Sisters: Corn, Beans and Squash from

Weeek 27 – Late Winter Harvest

Next week is spring break. Make sure watering issues are addressed while you’re away. In the meantime, we are currently harvesting: beets, chard, kale, carrots, cabbage, fava beans, broccoli side shoots, and fennel. Did you know kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat? Read this article Kale: The Phytonutrient Master and start adding some kale to your diet. FYI, we’re growing the dinosaur kale (aka Black Tuscan Cabbage).