Tag Archives: school garden

Ten School Garden Activities for September

Welcome back teachers and students.

September in a school garden is one of our busiest times. We need to get started quickly to insure a harvest before the long winter break.

For those without a school garden the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has written an extensive online manual, Setting up and Running a School Garden.

For those returning to an existing garden there is much to do. Preparing the beds for another season of seed sowing and transplanting is probably the hardest job physically we will have all year. Organizing a garden day with other parents, teachers, students and volunteers is something you may want to consider.

The following ten activities should be done (more or less) in order:

1) Discuss garden rules and tool safety. For those unfamiliar with garden rules these are the basics: a) No running in the garden; b) No walking in the beds; c) No running with tools; d) Do not carry or swing tools on your back; e) Do not bring hands tools over your shoulder; f) Walk with the tool by your side, blade down; g) Return all tools to their proper place immediately after use; h) Do not leave tools in the garden; i) Anyone not following these rules does not get to work in the garden.

2) Search for dried flower heads and seed pods in which to save seed (i.e. sunflowers, marigolds, lettuce, fennel, cilantro, beans, etc).

3) Clear beds of everything other than perennials (i.e. herbs and strawberries).

4) Collect all organic refuse and compost it. For more information on composting see The School Garden Resource page at the California Waste Management Board and the 8-page pdf, Guide to Home Composting from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works.

5) Add amendments (i.e. organic compost, aged manure) to existing soil, mix well and turn soil top to bottom and bottom to top. See video, How to Amend a Raised Bed.

6) Review the pdf, Vegetable Family Chart. At this time of year we will be planting cool-weather crops. There’s actually more to choose from now than there is in the spring.

7) Read seed packets for specific information regarding height and row spacing. (Taller plants go in the rear so as not to cast shadows on smaller plants.) See How to Read a Seed Packet.

8) Plan and design garden space.

9) Lay out rows. (Ideally, rows should be perpendicular to the arc of the sun.)

10) Sow seeds and/or transplant seedlings. Set up irrigation schedule.

How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers

Creating a school garden requires various skills of which gardening is merely one. Authors Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle of the recently published, How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers, understand this well.

These are the ten chapters covering such diverse topics as: design, budgeting, organizing, fundraising and curriculum:

1. Why School Gardens
2. Laying the Groundwork
3. Getting the Most From Your Site
4. Groundbreaking, Budgeting, and Fundraising
5. Developing your School Garden Program
6. A Healthy Outdoor Classroom
7. Tricks of the Trade
8. Planting, Harvesting and Cooking in the Garden
9. Year-Round Garden Lessons and Activities
10. A Decade in a School Garden: Alice Fong Yu Alternative School, San Francisco, CA

Extras include school garden kid-friendly recipes, example of state content standards and a comprehensive resource guide.

Bottom line – How to Grow a School Garden is one of the best how-to books about school gardening ever published. Add it to your summer reading and get growing in the fall.

Click here to purchase your copy today.

NEA’s Green Across America School Garden Funding – 7/30 deadline

Engage and inspire your K-12 students to increase sustainable, earth-friendly behavior in their neighborhoods and communities.

NEA’s Green Across America grants of up to $1,000 are available to help you implement your innovative education program, activity, lesson or event to excite students about going green, caring for the earth and creating a sustainable future.

The Green Across America Program is sponsored by Target, which proudly supports K-12 schools through innovative giving programs.

How to Apply
Click the “Apply Now” link to begin the online application.

The application must be completed in one session. You will not be able to save your responses and return to them later.

If you would like to prepare your application responses before beginning the online application, you can download a Grant Application Worksheet (.doc, 386K). The worksheet contains all the application questions to help you plan and write your responses. Please note: Only online grant applications will be accepted for this program.

All applications must be submitted online by July 30, 2010.
Please see the complete rules for details.

LAUSD School Gardens Featured in CNN Video

Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest school district in the nation, and now they are working toward becoming the greenest.

Parkview School Garden Video

This video was made by fourth grade students in Marca Babcock’s class at Parkview Elementary School, Bellingham,Washington. Over the summer they harvest food for their local food bank.

Venice HS Learning Garden

Gardens evolve. All gardens, school or otherwise, season to season, year to year, they grow, they change, and with the proper care, they prosper.  The “Learning Garden” at Venice High School has been evolving and prospering for more than 15 years.


Back in 1995 horticulture/landscape teacher Diane Pollock “inherited” a weed-ridden one acre property that was more home to feral cats and vagrants than it was to living plants. In collaboration with Garden Master David King and numerous community volunteers they have created one of the show-piece school gardens in America.


Today, the students are enriched by the various gardens that surround them. There’s a Chinese Herb and Medicinal Plant Garden, a Mediterranean Garden, a Fruit Orchard, a Rose Demonstration Garden, a Grape Arbor, and the U.C.L.A. Ornamental Garden.


A California native plant section has been lovingly created and cared for by Christine Walker.


Agricultural plots are tended to for organic vegetables. Compost piles teach sustainability.

One exciting recent development is the Culinary Arts and Sustainable Agriculture Academy (CASAA) created by teacher Tina Gruen. This new venture takes the garden a giant step forward by developing a complete “farm to fork” concept.  Students not only grow their food, but are taught how to prepare it as well. The entire process from seed to table can now be experienced first hand.

The Learning Garden’s famous potuck lunches on Fridays just got a whole lot tastier!

Westminster School Garden Keeps on Growing

Nora Dvosin and Nancy Giffin began the Westminster Elementary School Garden (WE Garden) in Venice, CA in 2004/05. Amid a sea of asphalt they have doggedly carved themselves a thriving oasis.

The WE garden has grown over the years tripling its original size and now includes a new kindergarten area complete with flowering pear trees that will be espaliered along the fence.

The organic learning garden is fully integrated into student/classroom curriculum including: art, science, social science, language, history, & math.

For example, the colonial garden not only teaches history but replicates a colonial era kitchen garden with the same plants and herbs that were grown at that time.

Students are also able to participate in a “seed-to-table” experience through a partnership with long time Los Angeles chef (and school neighbor), Joe Miller of Joe’s Restaurant on Abbot Kinney.

In exchange for cooking classes that Joe performs in the garden, the WE garden dedicates one bed to Joe’s Restaurant and grows whatever Chef decides. Currently there are Okinowan spinach, Caribbean thyme, 3 different kinds of peppers, and a feathery cilantro variety.

School never tasted so good.