Back to all Project Ideas / Create or Tend a School Garden
There are many reasons to use the outdoors for learning! Creating connections with nature teaches students about the important role of our natural world in our lives: providing wildlife refuge and habitat, soil, and nutrients to grow food for our tables, and many benefits that can improve our communities and our daily lives.
Being outside is generally beneficial for our health, and the more we can help educators use the outdoors for learning and play, the better. Help your school create places that are easy and fun to use by working with students and school staff to make something that works for everyone.
When it comes to a school garden, students can see and learn about where their fruits and veggies come from, and there’s a good chance they will eat more of them. 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 nutrient cycles and the environment, as well as teamwork, responsibility, and nutritional values. Get your hands dirty by building an outdoor space at a school in your community.
- Before starting your garden, form a team of administrators, parents, teachers, students, and other members of the school community who can help you set and achieve your goal.
- Make sure everyone knows the value of outdoor space for students, and then work with them to create a plan.
- 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 through the American Horticultural Society.
- Look for community support for your outdoor space, both for materials and for the manpower to make it happen.
- Reach out to local companies to donate materials such as seating, soil, or gardening equipment.
- Don’t forget- school gardens must be maintained!
- If you’re starting a garden at 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.
- Visit the National Farm to School Network website 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 establishing a schoolyard habitat from the National Wildlife Federation, which provides a seal of approval for wildlife habitats.
- Find funding ideas and planning ideas 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.
Solana Ranch Elementary School in San Diego, California
“Balfour Beatty Construction in partnership with San Diego Green Building worked with Solana Beach School District’s STREAM Program (Science – Technology – Research – Engineering – Arts – Math) to build a FarmBot on an existing planter box. The team connected the FarmBot to a dedicated solar panel, installed fencing, and created a sustainable organic garden for the school.”