Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


School Gardens

kid pic

Requests for information about school gardening, come in almost as often as those for community gardening.

Lucky for the callers, there are many books, organizations and even conferences that address these questions. When we began City Farmer, we looked covetously at barren boulder dust and asphalt school yards and envisioned food gardens as learning centres. Obviously we weren't alone in these dreams. Now children's gardens can be found in schools all over the world both outdoors and in the classroom under 'growing' lights.

We took part in the development of one such school garden at Lord Roberts Elementary School in Vancouver in 1986 and from that experience published a 16 page booklet titled School Garden Guidelines - How to Teach Children about Nutrition and the Environment
($6.00 from City Farmer)

Turning the Earth: A Month-by-month Guide to Your School Garden
"We have created a series of activities that can be used in any order. Flexibility is key, taking advantage of weather and serendipitous opportunities to use the garden. We hope that teachers will take children in to the garden regularly to draw, to sit and listen, to enjoy a story read in the open air, to write poetry, to be outdoors in a quiet and peaceful space that is their own, as well as following specific lessons that reach the objectives of the science curriculum." Posted 2011

Flowers, Plants, and Gardening: For Kids!

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Focuses on School Food Gardens
"FEED project is focusing on learning gardens on site at several Portland Public Schools to educate children about nutrition and healthy food and simultaneously engage students in hands-on learning experiences in creating edible gardens, growing food, preparing and eating meals, and composting and recycling." Posted January 24, 2006

Kids Gardening
"School and youth gardens are ideal vehicles for teaching across the curriculum, enlivening learning, and helping young people develop lifelong social skills. Our print and online catalogs offer plant-based curricula, horticultural information, products that engage kids in active learning and exploration, and general items sized for young gardeners or designed to solve gardening challenges. " Posted October 29, 2005

The Edible Schoolyard
"Garden classes teach the Principles of Ecology, the origins of food, and respect for all living systems. Students work together to shape and plant beds, amend soil, turn compost, and harvest flowers, fruits, and vegetables. In the kitchen classroom, students prepare and eat delicious seasonal dishes from produce they have grown in the garden. Students and teachers gather at the table to share food and conversation during each class. " Posted October 29, 2005

The Learning Garden
The Learning Garden is a model example of how school gardens can transform the lives of students and teachers and the environment of their community. Today, the agricultural plots are filled with organic food grown by the high school students. The garden has a large medicinal plant section for educational purposes, a pond with a water garden and waterfall, and a California native plant and cacti garden.
Posted January 22, 2005

Garden Mosaics
"Many community gardeners grow plants and use cultivation practices that originate from their unique cultural traditions. Little is known about the diversity of plants and practices in urban gardens. Garden Mosaics hopes to answer questions such as: Are there sustainable practices that might be adapted by others? Are there herbs that might be grown or used by a broader community?" Posted January 10, 2002

"Three Sisters: An Ancient Garden Trio"
Posted December 5, 2001

Gardening Within Arm's Reach
Gardening and experiencing nature for the visually handicapped. How to set up a garden with this in mind.

by Hans Schuman
Bartiméus Publications
"Gardening within arm's reach is intended for professionals who garden with specific groups, such as (school) children, elderly people and people with an impairment. It is a book that shows how fruitful it can be if a handicap or other limiting factor takes a back seat and the emphasis is laid instead upon the potential people possess to shape their environment. The book rests on many long years of experience gained in gardening with visually handicapped students at the Bartiméus school. " Posted November 25, 2000

Youth Farms and Activity Playgrounds in Germany
Youth Farms and Activity Playgrounds are pedagogically-supervised playgrounds for all children of 6 -14 years. They are not connected with any schools and are simply concerned with leisure activities. Unlike most other European countries, schools in West Germany do not usually cover the pupils' whole day, but close around 1 - 2 pm. Posted August 24, 2000

A Crack in the Pavement
"A new two-part video series on school ground greening featuring schools from across Canada. Growing Dreams is an inspirational video where students share their thoughts, feelings, and advice on implementing a successful school ground naturalization project. Digging In! is an instructional video where an exchange between a school just starting and a school with an established project forms the framework for kids to share their advice to others intersted in starting school gardens." (Free Offer! [In Canada] Evergreen and National Film Board Donating 1500 Video/Guidebook Packages to Schools.) Posted November 23, 2000

School Gardening Listserv
A forum for discussing school garden issues.
To subscribe at no charge, send a message to:
In the body of the message type:
subscribe school_garden digest

Queen Alexandra Elementary School
A focus for learning at Queen Alexandra Elementary School is our outdoor classroom - the school garden. For five years, we have been developing curriculae and nurturing the garden to promote socially responsible, environmentally conscious attitudes in the students. The school garden program is supported by the entire school community - staff, students, parents and neighbourhood.

The Grandview U'uqinak'uuh Community Schoolyard
Includes: the community garden, the bosque, the outdoor classroom, the feature landmark, the school garden, the butterfly garden, the hummingbird garden, the Mound, the dissipation pond, and the ethnobotanical garden. Posted January 26, 2000

Growing With Plants
"A New 4-H Youth Curriculum - Teaching Nutrition Through Gardening Education. Growing With Plants provides a blend of plant science, ecology, and human nutrition that helps reestablish children's connection between their growth, the food they eat, and where this food comes from; and improves nutritional practices." Posted October 5, 2001

The Food Project
Posted January 26, 2000
" Each year, through The Food Project's innovative programs, hundreds of teens from Greater Boston grow and distribute nearly 40,000 pounds of fresh organic vegetables and in the process gain the skills and knowledge they will need to be active and engaged citizens working for a just society and a sustainable environment in the 21st Century."

Life Lab Science Program
"The mission of Life Lab Science Program is to improve opportunities for children to learn science using the garden as a Living Laboratory." Life Lab is an exciting hands-on science program with a "Living Laboratory" approach to elementary science education. Students utilize indoor and/or outdoor garden laboratories as the context for the meaningful study of earth, life, and physical science. In a cooperative learning environment, students experiment, investigate, collect, record, and analyze data, in order to discuss, problem solve, and draw conclusions. All lessons are easily integrated in a most relevant manner into all areas of the curriculum. Posted August 14, 1999

Pumpkin Circle Project
"The video and the book capture life in the pumpkin garden with time-lapse photography of seeds sprouting, flowers opening, bees buzzing, pumpkins growing, and jack-o-lanterns glowing. This is a story to inspire the scientist, sculptor, chef, and teller of tall tales. Ages four and up." Posted August 14, 1999

Growing Naturally: A Teacher's Guide to Organic Gardening
By Maggi Brown 1996, Southgate Publishers, 56 pages
"Maggie Brown is education officer for the Henry Doubleday Research Association, Britain's leading organic organization."

Grounds for Learning: A celebration of school site developments in Scotland
By Kate Kenny 1996 Learning through Landscapes, 94 pages
"It is a fact of life that the majority of our children live in cities or towns where they go to school in surroundings which have been aptly described as 'asphalt deserts' or even 'green deserts'. How can we expect them even to begin to understand what the natural heritage is about if that is all the experience of it they are given?"

Digging Deeper
Integrating Youth Gardens Into Schools and Communities - A Comprehensive Guide

1998 By Joseph Kiefer and Martin Kemple
A Production of Food Works and the Common Roots Press in Partnership with the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA)
Food Works
64 Main Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 USA
Phone 802-223-1515
Fax 802-223-8980
A beautifully illustrated step-by-step guide for organizing and constructing children's gardens. The book is full of seasonal gardening activities and project ideas designed to cultivate high academic performance across the subject areas. Digging Deeper is a resource manual for the burgeoning Garden in Every School Campaign, in partnership with the ACGA.

In England Learning Through Landscapes publishes a variety of titles emphasizing environmental education in the school yard. Science - Recycling - Trees in School Grounds are three of many booklets which explore every inch of a school property.
Learning Through Landscapes
3rd Floor Southside Offices
The Law Courts
Winchester SO23 9DL
Phone (01962)846258
Fax (01962)869099

A leader in the United States in this field is The Grow Lab program from the National Gardening Association. Three publications are central to their program.
Grow Lab: A Complete Guide to Gardening in the Classroom
Grow Lab: Activities for Growing Minds
Growing Ideas: Newsletter

Pocket- Sized Farms
After three years of gardening with children in London, Ontario, LifeSpin has produced the Pocket-Sized Farms Kid's Garden Book. Organized around the seasons, the book is designed for children to use as members of a school garden club or in their own backyards. The children's book is part of a package of materials that LifeSpin is developing to encourage schools to develop productive, inspiring gardens on currently barren school yards. The second part of the package is a Teacher's and Parent's Guide to Organic Gardening that will be available early in 2000.
The Kid's Garden Book - Pocket-Sized Farms sells for $10 each or $8.50 each for five or more copies. The Teacher's and Parent's Guide to Organic Gardening will sell for $15 each.
Call Rob Barrs at LifeSpin (519) 438 8676 ext.31 to order copies or send cheque (payable to Lifespin) to LIFESPIN, P0 Box 2801, London, ON. N6A 4H4, Canada.

The Seeds of Change Garden is a hands-on project that emphasizes the rich diversity that can result from cultural exchange. Through the garden that children plan, cultivate, and harvest, they interact with nature and each other. They learn about the similarities and differences among themselves through the experience of growing, cooking, and eating food; important elements in all cultures. The garden further helps students respect and nurture the Earth and its peoples.

In Canada a new organization named The Evergreen Foundation is involved in what they call "School Ground Naturalization, which aims to change bleak areas into more liveable, balanced environments through the planting of indigenous species."
Evergreen Foundation
355 Adelaide St. W., Suite 500
Toronto, ON, M5V 1S2

The Evergreen Foundation,(West Coast Office)
106-163 West Hastings Ave
Vanouver BC V6B 1H5
(604) 689-0766
(604)689-0768 (fax)

Green Teacher is a magazine by and for educators to enhance environmental and global education across the curriculum at all grade levels. Fifty pages of ideas and activities, four times a year. A special issue of Green Teacher (April/May, 1994) focused on "The Promise of Gardening" in schools. It includes articles on "Children and Gardens in Japan" and "Multicultural Gardens". There is also Schoolyard Greening Issue #46, and Green Teacher's 2 Electronic Collections of articles on schoolyard naturalization, called "Transforming Schoolgrounds,Parts I and II"
Green Teacher
95 Robert Street
Toronto, ON M5S 2K5
Phone (416) 960-1244

Greening School Grounds: Creating Habitats for Learning
"In this new anthology from Green Teacher magazine, readers will find step-by-step instructions for numerous schoolyard projects, from tree nurseries to school composting to native-plant gardens, along with ideas for enhancing learning by addressing the diverse needs of students. Among more than a dozen schoolyard habitat options presented, the guide includes detailed articles on rooftop gardens, far-north gardens, desert gardens, butterfly gardens, ponds and prairie restorations." Posted February 14, 2001

Other Resources:

Youth and Urban Agriculture
Ken Hargesheimer of Gardens/Mini-Farms Network argues that we must show young people that mini-farming is a worthwhile career.

Success With School Gardens
"How to Create a Learning Oasis in the Desert"

by Linda Guy, Cathy Cromell, Lucy Bradley
Arizona Master Gardener Press 1996
4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040-8807
"This book contains everything a gardener needs to know to create a school garden in an arid climate."

Let's Grow! 72 Gardening Adventures With Children
By Linda Tilgner
Garden Way Publishing Book,
1988 Storey Communications, Inc.
Pownal, VT 05261 USA

Many simple picture books (some quite old) on growing various food plants can be found in the children's section of public libraries. There are also books and photos available on school garden programs from the turn of the century.


More Information About School Gardens

Food Gardening in Schools

Nutrition and School Gardens

Education and School Gardens

Composting Activities For Children

The Case For More High School Gardens

So you think you have a green thumb?  If you enjoy messing in the garden, then you may wish to do a bit of  online homework to supplement your skill set..  You could learn how to build a  greenhouse , a patio or even a deck if you'd like.  How about a terrarium?  So many projects, so little time!

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Revised January 3, 2012

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture