A school garden can provide a multitude of experiential learning opportunities for students across many academic content areas, such as science, math, reading and art. School gardens allow students to have a hands-on approach to learning and make a classroom curriculum come alive and become more relevant.
School gardening can take the form of an indoor window garden, planter box, hydroponic system, outdoor raised bed, hoop house, greenhouse, or even a school farm!
Nutrition & Lifestyle
Garden programs bring students into an outdoor classroom where broader lessons about nutrition, physical activity, and the environment take place. Whether growing vegetables, fruits or a variety of herbs, edible gardens are a valuable tool that schools can use to promote healthier eating and active living while sharing with students an appreciation of locally grown food and environmental stewardship. Kids are more likely to eat and enjoy foods they have planted and harvested themselves, and gardening is a great exercise!
Academic & Social/Emotional Development
Garden programs improve student attitudes towards learning and can increase overall academic performance. Students who garden develop other skills such as curiosity, flexibility, creativity and critical thinking that help them learn more effectively. Research suggests gardening in school improves students' social skills and behavior while working together with their teachers and each other.
Find inspiration and the basics to
start gardening in schools.
COMPREHENSIVE LOCAL RESOURCE
The URI School Garden Initiative website is a great place to start.
The UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Lab is the only local lab that offers the Total Sorbed Metals Test which tests for multiple contaminants in addition to the Routine Soil Analysis which tests for pH, nutrients and lead. Every school garden should start with a soil test.
national farm to school network
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat Program helps schools create outdoor classrooms in their own wildlife habitats.
ri environmental education partners
The RI Environmental Education Association is committed to advancing environmental education through collaboration.
Life Lab offers a wide range of school garden support including excellent curriculum resources connected to standards.
The RI Healthy Schools Coalition offers advice for inserting school garden language directly into your district/school wellness policy to integrate nutrition education and promotion into the larger school environment and increase the garden’s use and sustainability.
Summer in the School Garden – A Resource for Working with Volunteers to Maintain your School Garden addresses the challenge of summer maintenance with an exploration of maintenance models and best practices.