Teaching Sustainable Practices with School Gardens

school gardenSchool gardening is quickly becoming popular in schools across the nation as a sustainable practice that also serves as a powerful education tool for students of all ages. Engaging garden lessons provide hands-on learning for any academic subject.

Lessons can include healthy lifestyle and nutrition concepts, connection with nature and the community, sustainability, school pride, historical practices, and the importance of sustained care from seed to harvest.

Many schools in Massachusetts have already started school gardens. To name a few, Amherst, Andover, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Dorchester, Easthampton, Holyoke, Framingham, Natick, New Bedford, Northampton, Springfield, Taunton, Watertown and Williamsburg all feature gardens in some or all of their schools. Similarly, Foxborough Public Schools has indoor hydroponic garden towers that produce nutritious food for the cafeteria year round.

There are grant opportunities to help fund your agricultural education project! Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom partnered with Massachusetts State Grange, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources, the Massachusetts Dairy Promotions Board and more, awards mini-grants to educators ranging from $300-$500. Grant winners are allowed to receive the grant up to 3 times for a maximum of $1,500. Additionally, City Sprouts of Cambridge, MA partners with public schools to aid in school garden implementation and provides resources for teachers.

Are you interested in school gardening? FSU is offering a 4-week online School Gardening 101 course that starts January 11 and goes until February 5. Click here to view the syllabus and registration information. You can also find many useful resources in the Go Green for Schools page in the JSI Resource Center.

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