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Create a children’s gardening program


At George Washington Elementary in Eleanor, Putnam County, teachers weave lessons around the plants students are growing in the school’s high tunnel greenhouse. Read more: / Photo: Kenny Kemp


Fayette County students hoed the potatoes they’d planted,then later harvested them and ate them for lunch.”A lot of learning takes place,” said food service director David Seay.”We had kids who didn’t know potatoes grow in the ground.”

  • 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

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    Since Morgantown’s North School launched their international garden program in 2012, teachers have integrated plant science into the academic program.

    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.

  • 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.  And 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.


Want to create school gardens? These resources will also help:



Wheeling kids dig into raised bed gardens during school workshops.

    • 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 . In West Virginia, e-mail: or call West Virginia State University and ask for the Extension office.

www.StartaGarden.orgThis 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.


Teach kids simple ways to cook food they grow:

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    At Morgantown’s North School, students learn to cook the foods they grow. The school has been named a national Green Ribbon School of Excellnce by the US Department of Education. (Photo courtesy North School.)

This book got great reviews: Grow It, Cook It with Kids:

Ingredient: A Magazine for Kids Curious about Cooking: Check out their sample issues and free resources.

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    Charleston afterschool students learn now to garden in containers through workshops organized by Keys 4HealthyKids. Photo courtesy KEYS.

Consider container gardens. If you don’t have a garden plot to till, an alternative is container gardens. 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.


Need money /resources for a school / community garden program?



Volunteer master gardeners help with the greenhouse program at Putnam County’s George Washington Elementary. Photo: Kenny Kemp, The Charleston Gazette

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.

Also see these Try This pages: $$ funding, high tunnel greenhouses, community gardening and farm to school .


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.

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