Thought Seeds

Are school gardens programs scalable?

Written by
Jennie DiPadova
Published on
February 21, 2023

Bringing outdoor STEM learning to your community

Learning through school gardens has traditionally been a volunteer effort that often falls by the wayside from lack of resources and longstanding commitment, especially in underserved communities. Because of this, active learning through gardening has been a sorely underutilized yet vital education tool. We understood this at Green Our Planet and have built our mission around the idea that gardening can be a permanent and thriving fixture in education.

Striving to make our vision a reality, we have become the largest thriving school gardening program in the nation. Through our generous partners and supporters, we provide funding for outdoor gardens where the infrastructure is possible, and provide hydroponics units for those who want both gardening spaces, or only have indoor classroom space. Once we get this infrastructure in place, we support educators in several ways.

A comprehensive garden curriculum for teachers

We provide a comprehensive curriculum that follows Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core Standards and National Health Education Standards for teachers to have everything they need to teach fun and engaging lessons in areas such as, math, science, nutrition, arts and financial literacy.

Constant gardening support to our community

Green Our Planet Farmers tend to the outdoor gardens year-round so that they are maintained and kept active for learning. During their weekly visits, our Farmers also provide lessons to students from our robust curriculum, which the students love. They think the Farmers are the coolest, and we agree.

We also have rockstar Program Coordinators that support teachers during the school year, which includes providing teacher training and helping with issues and questions that may arise.

Our creative Nutrition team teaches engaging cooking lessons where students find joy from the colors and shapes of their fruits and veggies recipes. They often go home and request new foods they tried at school!

We also have our Garden Portal, an online community of teachers across the country to support one another as they partake in our program. Our Coordinators and other staff are also a part of the community where we share ideas, events, learning opportunities and anything garden related.

Making scalable school garden programs a reality

We do believe school gardening can be a sustainable and duplicatable program with the right tools, support and dedicated individuals, and our model has shown great success with our programming having spread to over 300 schools and counting! While this program is not mandatory in the schools, we find with the right resources and support in place, teachers are enthusiastic to take part in and stick with the program.

There’s a long way to go, but we are hopeful our mission is moving education and connection to the magic of nature and our universe in the right direction.

by Jennie DiPadova, Hydroponics Program Coordinator

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