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Resources for School Gardens & Farm-based Education

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In the garden at Auburn School District

In this section, learn about:

Students in elementary school through high school are learning about how food grows and are engaged in growing their own. A school garden is a fantastic and complete teaching tool that allows educators to use hands-on experiences to teach everything from math and science to art and reading. In fact, there isn’t anything that can’t be taught from a garden, including some important things about patience and nurturing, caring for our world and ourselves, and understanding life cycles. Students will begin to make their own connections and learn skills that can have life-long benefits. Plus, gardening can be fun and is a great physical activity. For students, being outside, planting seeds and watching them grow, and then harvesting their own food can be very fulfilling.

A school garden can be any size and even grow with the students. It is often a focal point for parents, teachers and students to cooperate whether it is small or large. It should be flexible and help meet the precise needs of the school community. Educators know that it can also promote opportunities for interdisciplinary lessons, good nutrition and exercise and instill a positive work ethic. It gives kids a chance to contribute positively to their environment.


Check out this great map created by the OSPI Education for Environment and Sustainability program to see school gardens near you: 

Map of Washington State School and Community Gardens


Garden to Cafeteria Toolkit

Garden to Cafeteria cover

Slow Food USA, in partnership with Whole Kids Foundation, has developed a toolkit to help school district food services safely bring school garden produce onto the lunch line! The toolkit builds off the successes and safety protocols of five school districts across the United States to provide templates and a step-by-step process to help District Food Services develop their own protocols.

In partnership with Common Threads in Whatcom County, Bellingham Public Schools is one of three school districts across the country currently participating in a Garden to Cafeteria pilot project supported by Slow Food USA and the Whole Kids Foundation. The pilot aims to develop and test protocol to allow garden grown produce to be regularly and safely enjoyed by kids as part of their school lunch program.

Image of School Garden FAct Sheet from USDA USDA's School Garden Fact Sheet

A great resource that addresses:

  • garden space
  • using school garden produce in the cafeteria
  • outdoor classrooms
  • food safety in the garden
  • staffing and funding
  • summer meals
  • early childhood education, etc. 

Let's Move - America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids
This School Garden Checklist is a great place to start!

Ensuring School Garden Experience with School Wellness Policy

School districts can support and ensure such rich school garden experience by specifying school garden activities in their School Wellness Policy:

The Public Health Law Center provides sample language for school garden

Incorporating School Garden Language into a School Wellness Policies by Wisconsin School Garden Initiative has specific examples of possible school garden language.

(See our School Wellness Policy page for more information.)

Last Updated: 11/27/2018