Create a children’s gardening program
- In Fayette County, grade-schoolers eat salad ingredients and potatoes they grow. “You never saw kids like salad so much,” said David Seay, Fayette Food Services director. They follow the Junior Master Gardner curriculum. Schools can get free training and help if they want to use this curriculum. Scroll down and read more about the Junior Master Gardener Program under “resources” and at
At Morgantown’s North School, students plant an international garden that includes 35 raised beds with plants from countries they study. They built them with the help of a Lowe’s Toolbox grant. They raise food year-round and use their gardens as a math and science platform. The curriculum was created through a partnership between WVU teacher ed program and the North School staff. Children perform pH tests on the soil and test the light, to see which raises the best vegetables, for instance. WVU faculty designed some of their projects, and many come from “Kids Gardening: Helping Young Minds Grow,” a field-tested, proven program of the National Gardening Association. http://www.kidsgardening.org.
- WVU faculty and the North Elementary staff created a gardening curriculum that coordinates with the state’s curriculum standards objectives (CSOs). Here is a sample unit on growing strawberries.
- Here’s the bigger curriculum: North Elementary: Garden Project-Based Growing
- At George Washington Elementary in Eleanor, Putnam County, teachers illustrate classroom lessons with vegetables students are growing in the school’s high tunnel (hoop) greenhouse. They use the Junior Master Gardener Program. “Through this program, youth learn how to grow their own food, and it turns into a life skills situation, showing them where food comes from,” said Extension agent Chuck Talbott. “We’ve had kids sitting in a garden eating spinach like potato chips because they’d never seen it growing before.” Putnam County master gardeners volunteers keep the hightunnel program well-oiled.
- At Ruthlawn Elementary in Kanawha County, first-grade teacher Bev Stearns created a gardening program after her classroom flooded. She dug a trench, lined it with rock and started growing vegetables with her first-graders. Years later, she has a year-round gardening program, integrated with her daily skills program.
Want to create school gardens? These resources will help:
- West Virginia School Garden Toolkit. This is the first thing you want to look at. It may have everything you need. Created by West Virginians for West Virginians.
- The new Farm to School Resource Kit, developed at Morgantown’s North School, is a fabulous resource.
Free help and materials available through West Virginia’s Junior Master Gardeners curriculum teaches kids how to plant and grow food and flowers on a basic level. West Virginia State University Extension Service is the West Virginia headquarters for this national program. Their staff will come in and train school staff to use the curriculum and help a school write grant applications and will give them helpful materials. Read more at http://jmgkids.us/what-is-jmg . In West Virginia, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call West Virginia State University and ask for the Extension office.
- www.StartaGarden.org. This wonderful new national resource was created by a West Virginian! You absolutely want to look at it as you plan your garden. It helps you plan a growing experience in everything from a raised bed to a tin can or plastic cup! A must-see.
- West Virginia Outdoor Classrooms facebook page is full of great ways you can move part of your day outdoors.
- National Youth Garden Association: Kids Gardening: Helping Young Minds Grow. www.kidsgardening.org
- Here is the database that links Common Core Math/Reading and Next Generation Science Standards to lessons in The Growing Classroom, a curriculum used at North School: http://www.lifelab.org/
- Use gardening to teach math: http://www.gardeners.com/buy/math-in-the-garden/8593685.html?SC=XNET9488 and http://math.about.com/od/arithemetic/fl/Math-in-the-Garden.htm and http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/11/math-in-the-garden/417135/
- Here is a powerpoint of pictures that leads you through the hightunnel creation process. Click on the photo at right. Created by WVU Extension agent Chuck Talbott, it shows the step-by-step creation of the George Washington Elementary High Tunnel in Putnam County.
- West Virginia school garden support network: Here’s a facebook page for the WV support network.
- Here is a wide variety of resources from School Nutrition.org.
- And you can subscribe FREE to Youth Gardening Gazette, published by the American Horticultural Society.
- Watch this West Virginia video: “Early education through growing gardens,” by the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition’s Fresh Ideas in Action series, featuring West Virginia State University Extension Service.
- Browse through The Edible Schoolyard: five stars, a wealth of good materials about creating a program. http://edibleschoolyard.org/
- Become familiar with the case for school gardens: Why is it a good thing for kids to raise food? WVU Extension agent John Porter makes the case: http://www.wvgazette.com/Life/201307190196#.UeyJrTlk4xs.facebook.
- Help kids make a gardening newsletter. Here is a sample from North School: Volume1Issue1GBL at North
- Here’s the USDA’s Farm to School and School Gardening Resource list: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/pubs/bibs/gen/farmtoschool.pdf
- EarthBox in Our Schools: http://earthbox.com/videos. A variety of videos that provide tutorials on school gardening and show how teachers incorporated gardening into their schoolday.
- In the video below, two North School teachers talk about ways they use the garden to get the kids moving and teach core subjects:
Teach kids simple ways to cook food they grow:
- Here’s an article about the cooking part of North School’s garden program: “Revolutionizing Learning Through School Garden Programs” http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/news-content/revolutionizing-learning-through-school
- This book got great reviews: Grow It, Cook It with Kids: http://www.amazon.com/Grow-It-Cook-With-Kids/dp/1845979699
- Ingredient: A Magazine for Kids Curious about Cooking: http://www.ingredientmag.com. Check out their sample issues and free resources.
- Chef Jamie Oliver features North School’s program: http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/news-content/revolutionizing-learning-through-school
- Consider container gardens. If you don’t have a garden plot to till, an alternative is container gardens. http://naturalearning.org/greendesk. Scroll down to “Growing edibles in containers.”
- For inspiration, look at Granny’s Garden School in Cincinnati. Amazing. 24 acres of school garden. Entire meals 100 percent from school garden. Sunflower outdoor learning garden. This site also has learning activities by grade level. http://grannysgardenschool.org
Need money /resources for a school / community garden program?
Partner with your local WVU or WVSU Extension Service. They can help you get it going and keep it going (see photo on left).
Make a list of other local groups (garden clubs, etc.) that could supply volunteers.
- . Check it out! Packed with ideas, funding possibilities, and great examples.
- The Try This funding page includes numerous sources of funding for gardens, including the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant North School received.
- Here are some good pages to mine for garden grant possibilities: www.gardenabs.com/grants.html and https://www.kidsgardening.org/grants-and-programs/ and
- If you have signed up for Fuel Up to Play 60,( http://www.fueluptoplay60.com) you are eligible to apply for healthy lifestyle grants of up to $4,000 per year. The money must pay for something that will last, which could be raised beds or part of the cost of a high tunnel greenhouse.
- Try local fundraising. This is a great, affordable project for local firms to support, either with direct funding or in-kind contributions.
- Cut your costs by hooking up with local people certified as master gardeners. They have to do community service each year to keep their certification. Maybe they’d like to help with your project. You can find them by asking your extension agent to give you a list of them.
- Here are useful national funding source lists.
Here is another video of teachers at Morgantown’s North School, talking about other ways they
have connected the gardening program with their academic program.