School Gardens: How to Start Your Own

school gardens

Photo from Thurgood Marshall Academy, Washington, DC.

Looking to start a school garden or school cooking class in your community? Check out our list of resources:



School Garden Wizard is a toolbox for starting and maintaining a school garden created through a partnership between the United States Botanic Garden and Chicago Botanic Garden.

Register your school with and find articles and other resources to help with your school garden.

The California Department of Education, in collaboration with the Center for Ecoliteracy, has distributed more than 25,000 print copies of Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms. Download it here.

Texas A&M Department of Horticulture's has a school gardening website.

Download Farm Aid's Farm to School 101 Toolkit here.

Sustainable Table's guide to school garden and food projects.

Gardening ABCs is a website dedicated to school gardens created by Anne Nagro, a parent volunteer with Woodland Elementary West in Illinois. She has also written a book on her school's project, Our Generous Garden, available in a dual language (Spanish-English) edition by Dancing Rhinoceros Press.

Joyce Perew, who taught at the Mulberry Junction community garden in Minneapolis, has lessons available for sale. Contact her at

Organization-Based School Garden and Cooking Programs

Slow Food in Schools works with local Slow Food chapters to create Garden to Table projects in K-12 schools.

Alice Water's Chez Panisse Foundation leads an Edible Schoolyard Academy for educators. In the future the organization will be forming affiliate model programs and will develop a suite of tools to help districts across the country change their school meal programs.

RecipeForSuccess is a non-profit charity dedicated to combating childhood obesity by changing the way children understand, appreciate and eat their food.

The Life Lab Science Program (by the University of California, Santa Cruz) is a nonprofit organization and has been working in the field of science and environmental education since 1979. With their award winning curricula and programs, the organization helps schools develop gardens where children can create "living laboratories" for the study of the natural world.

The National Farm to School Network is a collaborative project of the Center for Food & Justice (CFJ), a division of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). Farm to School brings healthy food from local farms to school children nationwide. The program teaches students about the path from farm to fork, and instills healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. At the same time, use of local produce in school meals and educational activities provides a new direct market for farmers in the area and mitigates environmental impacts of transporting food long distances.

Seeds of Solidarity is a nonprofit organization that provides people of all ages with the inspiration and practical tools to use renewable energy and grow food in their communities, Seeds of Solidarity has a number of school based garden partnerships, afterschool programs, and a teen program that teach young people to grow and cook fresh food.

21st Century Community Learning Center Grant supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools.

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation provides grants for projects focusing on education and learning, food, health and well-being.

The Earth Day Network provides grants for classroom civic and environmental education with hands-on learning experiences that provide an opportunity for students to remedy local environmental concerns.

Your school can raise up to $5000 for your school garden through Lowe's Toolbox for Education.

The National Gardening Association and The Home Depot offers a Youth Garden Grants program.

Chlorox Green Works offers a Green Heroes grant program.

Real School Gardens is a grassroots gardening program that helps children by supporting elementary school communities as they design, install and sustain outdoor classrooms (gardens).

The Sylvia Center offers garden-to-table nutrition education year-round in classrooms all over New York City. From May through October, they host school and camp groups at Katchkie Farm, in Kinderhook, NY.

City Blossoms is a Maryland-based organization that uses gardening to create environmental, nutritional, and cultural connections for children and youth.

Growing Chefs offers educational programming in farming, gardening, and cooking with simple recipes using seasonal ingredients in the New York City metro area.

Mud Baron helps schools in the Los Angeles area start and maintain gardens.

Helpful Links

Oregon's planned Farm-to-School Program

School gardens in Los Angeles

New York City's Garden to Cafe pilot program

School Garden Project of Lane County, Oregon

Prepare yourself for some challenges: Zerofoodprint asks if Farm-to-School is a pipe dream.

Extra Credit

What's on Your Plate? is a documentary produced and directed by award-winning Catherine Gund about kids and food politics, narrated by two eleven-year-old New York City public school students.

Look out for the forthcoming documentary A Community of Gardeners, which includes the Washington Youth Garden and the C. Melvin Sharpe Health School Garden.

School Lunch Talk is a blog about public school food.

Chef Ann Cooper, who revolutionized the Berkeley school system's cafeterias, keeps a website and blog.


Does your child's school have a garden or cooking class?

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