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Important Resources for the Development and Sustainability of School Garden Programs1

John M. Diaz and Erin Elsberry 2

Introduction

With demands for more instructional time in the classroom, teachers have less time to dedicate toward coordinating the school garden and, as a result, require support mechanisms. When surveyed, gardening teachers with adequate support were more enthusiastic about the potential of school gardens than teachers who did not garden or lacked support (Graham & Zidenberg-Cherr, 2005). Extension agents serve as a valuable resource in providing teachers with in-service training and technical education to increase their ability to effectively use gardening as an instructional tool. There are numerous variables that directly affect the success and sustainability of a school garden. Barriers include complexity of school gardens, proficiencies with Florida-specific gardening, and availability of resources and knowledge about garden management. As teachers are already overextended with existing responsibilities, it is important to streamline the process of finding school garden resources. Extension agents can bridge these barriers by assisting in the procurement of appropriate resources, fostering collaborative opportunities, and providing education and technical support. Extension's vision is to foster enthusiasm among teachers for school garden programs by removing the barriers that impede the use of the school garden as an instructional tool.

This document provides an outline of important resources to help in the development and sustainability of a school garden program. Resource categories include Extension support, garden planning, curricula, and funding.

Extension Support Resources

There are a diverse set of Extension agents that can provide support to your school garden program. The support can range from supplemental education to technical assistance. Table 1 describes the types of available assistance from UF/IFAS Extension faculty and staff.

Table 1. 

Types of Extension resources available to teachers.

Garden Planning

Planning a garden is a difficult task. Understanding how to get started provides a solid foundation for a sustainable school garden program. The resources below will help to inform and guide the planning efforts for various school garden programs (Table 2).

Table 2. 

Guides for garden program planning.

Curriculum

School gardening engages students by providing inquiry-based and experiential learning. School gardens serve as a valuable educational tool in science, math, English, reading, art, music, and social studies. Table 3 outlines curricula to promote garden-based educational activities that address a variety of standards.

Table 3. 

Curricula resources for garden-based experiential activities.

Funding

While lack of funds is often sighted as a barrier to school garden programs, there are in fact several grant opportunities available. There are a range of opportunities that provide financial resources for garden materials, education, and other supplies. Table 4 outlines some of the opportunities that can be leveraged for a school garden program.

Table 4. 

Grant opportunities that support school gardens.

Reference

Graham, H., & Zidenberg-Cherr, S. (2005). California teachers perceive school gardens as an effective nutritional tool to promote healthful eating habits. Journal of the American Dietetic Association105(11), 1797–1800.

Footnotes

1. This document is AEC621, one of a series of the Agricultural Education and Communication Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 2017. Reviewed February 2021. RVisit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. John M. Diaz, assistant professor and Extension specialist, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611; and Erin Elsberry, School Gardens Program Regional Specialized Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County, Bartow, FL 33830.

Publication #AEC621

Date: 3/10/2021

RELATED TOPICS

Fact Sheet

Contacts

  • John Diaz