Outdoor Garden Classroom Program
Green Our Planet launched its Outdoor Garden Classroom Program in Las Vegas, Nevada in January, 2013. The goal of the Outdoor Garden Classroom Program is to help public and private schools raise funding for and build outdoor vegetable gardens where students can be taught a variety of subjects, including STEM, health, and nutrition. Green Our Planet’s “turn-key” Outdoor Garden Classroom Program is now the largest and most comprehensive school garden program offered in Nevada and the largest in the United States. You can watch a short video description of of it here.
What Our Outdoor Garden Classroom Includes:
WORK WITH ALL ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE, AND HIGH SCHOOLS
Green Our Planet offers its Outdoor Garden Classroom Program to all elementary, middle, and high schools, Pre-K through 12th grades, in the CCSD whether they are Title 1 or non-Title 1, charter or other kinds of schools.
The gardens we help fund and build are raised garden beds made from bricks and come complete with soil, seeds, and automatic drip irrigation and are approved by the CCSD. You can see many of our gardens here. To see one under construction, click here
We have found that in the Mohave Desert, school gardens fare best when maintained professionally, with weekly visits by a farmer, which also includes a weekly workshop in garden topics for classes. After the first year, the school has the option of continuing with the farmer or maintaining the garden on their own.
PRE-K THROUGH 5TH GRADE GARDEN STEM LESSONS
Green Our Planet in collaboration with Three Square and 12 CCSD Teachers and 3 farmers from Garden Farms created the first Pre-K through 5th grade STEAM garden curriculum aligned to Next Generation Science standards and Nevada State Standards. Released in the fall of 2014, it is now in its second, revised edition, and allows teachers to teach STEAM subjects directly in the gardens instead of in a classroom. You can see the curriculum here.
SPECIAL NEEDS CURRICULUM
In collaboration with Desert Oasis High School, Green Our Planet helped find funding for the creation of a vocational garden curriculum for special need students at Middle and High Schools.
GREEN OUR PLANET COORDINATORS AND FORMATION OF GARDEN TEAMS
According to national research, the most sustainable school garden programs are those that are run by garden teams ideally composed of a teacher from each grade level. Green Our Planet helps form these teams, then assigns a Green Our Planet Coordinator to attend Garden Team meetings each month in order to help schools achieve their vision for the their garden program. The Green Our Planet coordinators are all college- educated and bring a wide variety of skills to the schools, including architectural design, hydroponics, graphic arts, horticulture, and health sciences.
Green Our Planet helped pioneer the first student-run farmers’ markets in Las Vegas with Kathleen Coveney a teacher at John S Park ES in the fall of 2013. Since then, more than 60 CCSD schools have conducted farmers’ markets, many of them run by elementary schools. Green Our Planet in conjunction with CCSD teachers also created the “Farm-preneur Program,” which teaches 5th graders (via their STEAM curriculum) how to create a business out of their vegetable gardens. To see a 5th grade farmers market, click here.
Within the last two years, Green Our Planet has created the largest chef-to-school program in the United States, taking advantage of the fact that Las Vegas has an abundance of restaurants. More than 60 professional chefs donate their time in this program by giving demonstrations at schools in how to cook healthy and nutritious meals from produce grown in a school garden. To see chef demos in action, click here.
At the school’s request, Green Our Planet will assist the school in all aspects of forming a garden club (K-12 grades).
HYDROPONICS/SALAD BAR SYSTEMS
Green Our Planet and the nonprofit organization, Los Vaqueros, partnered together in 2016 to launch the first, city-wide Hydroponics/Salad Bar Program in the CCSD. Los Vaqueros creates large, portable, free-standing hydroponics units and installs them; Green Our Planet then teaches schools how to maintain them and how to use the produce to create supplemental salad bars for school cafeterias, thus creating the first “farm-to- school-cafeteria” vegetable production systems in the CCSD. The hydroponics systems are offered free to schools that already work with Green Our Planet.
MONARCH BUTTERFLY WAY STATIONS
In partnership with the Southern Nevada Milkweed Project, Green Our Planet launched a Monarch Butterfly/Pollinator garden program in the CCSD in 2016. Because Monarch Butterfly populations have declined precipitously in the last 20 years across the U.S., scientists have discovered that by planting their native food—local milkweed—that their numbers increase. Green Our Planet is thus offering schools “pollinator gardens,” that are planted with native milkweed and other plants that attract beneficial pollinators.
GARDEN SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM
It is important that a garden program not only have a suitable curriculum, but also that it be financially sustainable. Green Our Planet therefore works with the school to devise a system where via Farmers Markets, Harvest Parties, and/or grants to make sure their program becomes sustainable. To see a harvest party, click here.
EXPANSION OF GARDENS INTO OUTDOOR GARDEN CLASSROOMS
After the garden beds are put in, Green Our Planet assists schools with expanding their initial garden into an Outdoor Garden Classroom, complete with student seating, white board, etc. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for teachers to conduct classes outside. To take a tour of an Outdoor Garden Classroom, click here. To see one under construction, click here.
ASSISTANCE IN CONNECTING TITLE 1 SCHOOLS TO LONG-TERM CORPORATE SPONSORS
A Title 1 school is a school where 40% or more of the students receive free or reduced price lunches, an indicator of the neighborhood’s economic level. To help create a level playing field for these schools, Green Our Planet assists Title 1 schools in finding a long term corporate sponsor to help with the garden program.
EXTRACTING THE MAXIMUM EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT FROM YOUR GARDEN
The overall goal of the Outdoor Garden Classroom Program is to help your school create its own vision for your garden program, then to help you achieve that vision, so as to extract the maximum benefit possible from your Outdoor Garden Classroom.
Green Our Planet School Gardens
"As the principal of Crestwood Elementary School in the Clark County School District (CCSD I understand how important STEM education is to the future of our students. I also know that our students learn best through experiential, hands-on learning. We are very lucky at our school because thanks to the support…of Green Our Planet…the garden has had an enormous, positive impact at our school. Our Outdoor Classroom Garden Team has accomplished many goals including being the first school in our district to build an Outdoor Classroom.
With tremendous community support, we transformed our garden into a classroom equipped with a table, bench, and whiteboard. We currently have ten teachers who routinely use the garden to teach reading, writing, and math. Our school has facilitated two teacher-led Topic Studies that focused on integrating STEM curriculum. They also wrote a "Math in the Garden" curriculum. The culture at our school has benefited from the garden immensely because teachers, students, and parents alike are involved and excited to continue to develop our Garden Programs. This summer, our school will launch the district's first ever summer garden program where forty students will spend three weeks gardening and cooking with produce from our own garden."
"We have been extremely grateful for the amazing support from the Sportsman Family and Green Our Planet when we were able to build our outdoor garden classroom at Park two years ago. The garden has had an enormous, positive impact at our school. Our garden club has early morning weekly meeting times, no matter the weather, in order to weed, plant, harvest, and sell our produce. Farmers' markets have been run by the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders where the students harvest, set-up and set the prices, then display the produce for sell to our local families and community members. Our families and local neighbors have been instrumental in keeping our garden growing by supporting the kids and the garden. Classroom teachers are also using the garden with STEM lessons. By getting our students out of their seats and into an engaging environment, our students have benefited from being able use all their senses in order to make connections and lasting learning experiences. The excitement and joy that having an outdoor class such as this garden is an important element to moving our students towards being engaged in learning."
"Our mission at United Way is to improve lives and build stronger and healthier communities. We fully support the work that the Green Our Planet is undertaking with their Outdoor Garden Classroom Program as we recognize it has the potential to positively affect the health and wellbeing of thousands of students and their parents in our community.
Walter Bracken Elementary is one of the schools involved in Green Our Planet's Outdoor Garden Classroom Program and the principal, Katie Decker, informed us that the school will—with the help of the Clark County School District, Green Our Planet and Garden Farms—be launching the first Farmers Market in an elementary school in the CCSD in the Fall of 2013. Principal Decker approached United Way to see if we can integrate "The Piggy Bank" and financial literacy program into their proposed farmers market. Her goal is to have fifth graders set up and run the farmers market as a business, with guidance from United Way, Green Our Planet, and Garden Farms. We think this is a unique and exciting program that will not only educate the students about how to build a business but will also provide a huge service to the surrounding community which is currently designated as a "food desert." We can foresee many other potential collaborations with the Farm to School Program at CCSD in the future.
To sum up, United Way very strongly supports Green Our Planet's Outdoor Garden Classroom Program!"
"I am the Principal at Walter Bracken Elementary School. We are lucky to have one of the largest school gardens in the [Clark County] school district. Since the garden was built a few years ago it has been a huge success at our school. The garden has provided an ideal classroom for hands- on, experiential learning for our students, the kind of learning we promote here at our magnet school. Teachers use the garden for science, math, social studies and art classes. Students learn how to grow vegetables and fruit. They learn how to compost and take care of the garden. But our garden also impacts the health of our students. Students learn about where their food comes from and taste vegetables and fruit they've never eaten before. Our students are lucky enough to witness first-hand the seed to table process. This involves local chefs coming to our school and teaching our students how to create simple dishes from the food they grow in the garden. The biggest challenges we face with our garden is firstly, ensuring that, given how large it is, that the garden reaches its full potential and secondly, making sure that the cost to maintain the garden is covered. However, we have recently solved these problems by teaming up with the Clark County School District partners, Garden Farms and Green Our Planet. Working with Bryan Vellinga of Garden Farms we know that our garden will now operate at its full potential all year round. The exciting part about that is because our garden is so big we will be able to establish the first Farmers Market in an Elementary School in our school district. The money we raise from the farmers market will more than cover the cost to maintain the garden and at the same time our students will learn how to create and run a business. We are a Title 1 school in a poor district and so the farmers market will also provide an important service to the community by offering fresh fruit and vegetables in a neighborhood that is considered a food desert."
Dear Ms. Byrne:
"As the principal of Ruth Fyfe Elementary School in the Clark County School District (CCSD), it is with pleasure that I write this letter of support for [a grant proposal] in collaboration with Green Our Planet and Las Vegas Downtown Achieves.
Here at Ruth Fyfe we are committed to providing the best education possible for our students and to that end we are focused on ensuring our students receive hands-on, project-based learning in science, technology, engineering and math. One of the best ways we've found to provide such learning for our students is in the outdoor garden classroom at our school.
A little over a year ago, we partnered with Green Our Planet who helped find a sponsor to refurbish our garden, The Junior League of Las Vegas. Green Our Planet also applied for a $5000 Lowes grant which we used to expand the garden. We currently have an active garden team with a teacher from each grade level involved. We are planning a big community event over three Saturdays this April where parents and community volunteers are going to help expand our garden, build benches, a harvesting table and paint murals. We have had a couple of farmers markets run by our 5th graders this year. We will have three chef demonstrations this year where a chef comes in and helps prepare food from the garden for the students.
Some of our teachers are using the Outdoor Garden Classroom STEM curriculum but not all of them and so I am glad to be part of this grant to ensure the teachers at my school are trained in how to use the outdoor classroom as well as how to use the STEM curriculum. Recently, I read a study carried out in Louisiana in 2003 called When they touch they remember by a scientist called Emekawa. The scientist discovered that student outcomes in STEM through teaching in the outdoor classroom were directly related to the amount of training teachers received. The…grant will make teacher training possible so I am fully in support of it."
To Ciara [Byrne, Co-CEO of Green Our Planet] and Owen [Carver, of All in Web, Pro]
"I just wanted to thank you again for all your efforts in helping schools thrive by not only having Outdoor Classroom Garden Programs but also, by connecting us to supportive people. Your work contributes to a big impact.
I shared yesterday how students are choosing salad clubs as their reward lunch instead of pizza! Today, during Garden Gnomies (our garden club), the students had $100 to spend as they democratically choose among 3 conservation foundations (Protecting hummingbirds, bees, and monarch butterflies). They split up into groups. Each group presented a proposal of how to spend the profits of their Farmers' Markets. The winning proposal was to give each foundation $30 and spend $10 on a hummingbird feeder. They did this because as we were meeting, they saw a hummingbird zip past the garden and wondered why it didn't stay in our garden. They realized it was because we had we missing flowers for the hummingbirds to eat from. The students' solution was to put up a feeder.
Everyday, the students surprise me and fill me up with hope. I know for a fact, Crestwood couldn't do this without you! Students and families are realizing their power while working in the garden. Our school culture is benefiting tremendously."