Garden for Schools

From Garden to Classroom

A school garden can be integrated into the classroom in many ways. Typically gardens have been used to enhance science lessons. Lessons pertaining to plants are the easiest to teach with a garden but you should not limit yourself to only these types of lessons.

With enough creativity, and an engaged teacher, the garden and its activities can be applied to just about any lesson in the classroom. We teach from the garden and look to inspire a myriad of professional opportunities and careers that the students may not know to exist.

Science and Math have been the subjects most frequently associated with the garden, and obviously the garden lends itself perfectly to teaching about plants and plant growth, yet so many other sciences can be applied including soil compositions, composting, etymology, and the interaction of plants and insects.

Allowing your students to plan and help design the garden can help them learn about measuring, engineering, and budgeting as well as entrepreneurial skills such as profitability and basic business foundations.

History and language arts lessons can also be enhanced from the garden. Teaching different cultural realities, and all the different foods that are grown all over the world we open up our students to the world around them and it all comes from the garden.

Poets and writers have been writing about gardens for centuries, and students may relate to the tale that much easier if they can be involved. A garden is the perfect place for hands-on acute learning, and the more it is used, the more your students will learn from it.

Urban Farming Institute’s Garden Program

The Urban Farming Institute has implemented and developed hundreds of school gardens throughout South Florida, and has a program that will enable your teachers to utilize the garden as a resource center, rather than another layer of work.

In general, teachers that look to develop school gardens have some understanding of the growing principals here in South Florida, and have probably done lots of research on gardening, yet they do not have the time needed throughout their day to properly care for the garden, so we at the Institute have developed a program, where we install the garden, fill it with the proper soils, amendments etc. and set the garden up as an exterior classroom for the teachers.

Once the garden is installed, the Urban Farming Institute will provide teachers with a certified Florida School Garden Curriculum. This curriculum is based upon the age of the students in the program, as well as with all the IFAS master gardener planting schedules, insect management techniques, and feeding requirements.

This “Teach the Teacher” program has valuable lessons from the garden and is guaranteed to enlighten the students in educating them as to where their food comes from, how it’s grown, and the many factors that go into the production of plants.

Once the teachers are provided with this valuable information, the students will then plan out their garden(s) utilizing the square foot gardening method, and ultimately planting the seeds to their very own garden.

On a monthly basis, a certified Urban Farming Institute gardener will visit your school, identify any issues within the garden, follow up on lesson plans so that we maintain a level of accountability and advise and treat whatever issues may be present. These monthly visits or Doctor calls as I like to call them, will allow us to monitor the progress of the garden, as well as, to further educate the teachers and give them professional horticulture advice to make their jobs that much easier.

Please understand, we are not “the landscaper” as that is the job of the students and the teachers. Urban Farming Institute are is your schools horticultural specialist and your source for information and guidance.

Teaching Our Students About Healthy Foods

The Urban Farming Institute will assist you, our fantastic teachers, in educating students how food is grown, produced, and consumed, one garden at a time. Our farm and garden professionals at the Urban Farming Institute will guide you to a successful and sustainable school garden.

To succeed, a garden must be well planned and thought out prior to assembling any kind of bed or other system. This is were we shine the most.

It’s so much more than planting seeds and growing vegetables. There are so many valuable lessons that one learns in working in a garden. Why not bring these opportunities into your classroom?

Every Broward School Needs A Garden

  1. Who makes up a schools Garden Leadership Team?
  2. What should be expected?
  3. Is my principal involved in the garden program and will we have their support?

These are all great questions.

A school garden is so much more than just some herbs and plants. It’s a means to educate and connect our students as to where their food comes from. It also demonstrates how it’s grown, produced and illustrates the time and patience it takes to grow profoundly nutritious-rich, organic meals and snacks.

The professionals at the Urban Farming Institute will collaborate with county instructors and teachers with all the needed schools garden techniques you will need to continuous fruit and vegetable success thru:

  • ‘Florida AG in the Classroom’ approved curricula
  • ‘Fresh From Florida®’ Marketing Materials and Posters
  • Florida Master Gardener Support
  • Seasonal Farm to Table Nutrition Demonstrations
  • Monthly garden visits
  • Location Funding Assistance
  • State Approved Garden Curricula
  • Educational Classes for Teachers and Students
  • Farm-to-Table Demonstrations
  • Florida-specific Vegetable Blend Soils
  • Organic Fertilizers
  • Organic Starter Plants (Call for availability)
  • Natural & Organic Pest Management Solutions
  • Seeds & Seed Starter Trays

Think of the Urban Farming Institute as ‘Your School’s Master Gardener’!

Benefits of School Gardens

School Gardens offer many benefits to teachers and to their students that go way beyond the classroom. School Gardens provide the opportunity for students, teachers and members of the community to interact. This interaction may allow for an improvement of interpersonal social skills and can teach students how to work cooperatively with each other and their elders.

Without proper care and maintenance, gardens can die or often become “overgrown”. Giving students the responsibility to water and care for the plants they grow may instill in them a sense of pride and accountability. Patience is another virtue that students may learn through garden participation, as it does take time for the plants to develop into flowers then fruit.

As the garden grows and becomes fruitful and beautiful, students and teachers can take pride in their efforts they put forth. This pride helps to bolster a self-esteem and allow a child to take pride in the beatification of their school, their community and in the sustainability of our planet.

A school garden allows students to work in a non-threatening outdoor environment where they can interact and learn about nature. Studies find that students who are allowed to learn in an outdoor environment such as a garden have helped to improve environmental attitudes.

School gardens are a wonderful and exciting way to enhance school subjects and make them more interesting and meaningful to the students. Gardens create an environment that encourages creative thought, acute learning and interpersonal skills. The garden is a living entity that will serve as an excellent resource to teach subjects while allowing students to learn in an environment that is atypical to the sterile classrooms to which they are accustomed to.

Teachers throughout the nation are discovering how useful and educational a garden can be, and are using gardens to integrate every aspect of the learning curriculum thru the S.T.E.M. program; as it’s so much more than just learning about plants and insects. When factoring in the mathematics in the measuring, in the addition and the subtraction the garden can also be utilized in teaching Social studies, as the students learn where and how foods are produced.

The school garden is a blank canvas of art created by Mother Nature herself, a gift that allows students an ocean of opportunity for their future, and perhaps put them on the path to better nutrition and a healthier lifestyle.

We Teach the Teachers

It’s so much more than planting seeds and growing vegetables. There are so many valuable lessons that one learns in working in a garden. Why not bring these opportunities into your classroom?

Urban Farming Institute's School Garden Harvest.
Urban Farming Institute's School Garden Harvest.

Let’s Get Growing

Where will your Garden Go?

This question is extremely important, as it can determine the success or failure of your garden. Many teachers want to have their gardens right outside the classroom for the convenience and the possibility for keeping their eye on the garden.

But sometimes this may not be the ideal location. When locating the ideal site for your garden, you need to consider many factors including type of garden beds (Growing Methods) you will be utilizing, soil quality, sun exposure, water availability, water drainage, existing vegetation, accessibility, student traffic and land realities.

What type of growing system will work best for you?

Many times this is a question of budget, yet in all cases for edible gardening here in South Florida we have no other choice but to grow “above the ground”; and while conventional agricultural practice can yield food crops it is not efficient in a school environment to practice this style of growing, so determining your preferred raised method is up to that individual school.

Starter Garden

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Raised Bed Garden Kits

Raised Beds can be made from wood, and is the preferred style of garden bed. Cost effective and easily managed this method will allow for ease in installation and maximization of crop yield.

Raised beds can also be made from concrete block, and while this may prove to be the less costly method, realize that the concrete does get extremely hot and if not properly maintained can “cook” your plants.

‘Raised’ Grow Bags

‘Raised’ Grow Bags have become the latest and greatest in Urban farming yet after many years I have come to the scientific conclusion that this method should not be utilized in urban growing.

While portable, and convenient they do not “clean-up” or “sanitize” easily and if plant is infected it has also infected the bag as well.

Hydroponic / Aquaponic Starter Kits

These are really the best, cleanest and easiest way to grow your own food, and while the students will not “learn” the basics of soil, it’s that same soil. They can well be the downfall of the garden and the use of soil as we know it. With soil, the nutrients and micronutrients all need to be constantly maintained based upon the soil composition, and is much harder to predict than its hydro/aqua counterpart.

While for some the costs may be prohibitive to garden in this manner, it is however, the future of farming throughout the world. These methods could set your schools’ garden program apart from all the others.

Soil

Well-drained, nutrient rich soil is a must for any garden. Soil testing is important in determining the soil type as well as the needed amendments that the soil will require to properly nourish your plants.

While the PH ratio is an important factor in the health of the soil, it’s the nutrients that keep a plant healthy and a healthy plant is a happy plant, one that can easily fend off invasive pests, and or fungal issues in the garden.

Water Source

Someone will have to water the garden at least once a day if not more, as gardeners cannot rely upon the sun for our needed daily watering. It is important that a water source be close by and accessible for the gardeners, as again they cannot rely upon the sprinkler systems of the schools.

The Urban Farming Institute highly recommends the use of timers and or drip irrigation systems, as remember who will be watering on weekends and holidays.

Land Realities and Water Drainage

When determining your location watch to see after a rainstorm the water runoff in the areas you are considering. Also look for standing water and or high runoff can wreak havoc on your garden and could kill your plants.

Existing Vegetation

Are there plants around your site that could alter the growing, i.e. too many tall trees, any ground cover as they may have to be relocated to create your garden in that location.

Accessibility

Consider how accessible your site is to you, your students, and other participants. Also consider how wildlife may be affected, and or if the garden could be susceptible to wildlife looking for food.

Unfortunately, you must also consider location and protection from vandals and/or theft.

Student Traffic

Will the garden be in an area of high student traffic, and if so how will this flow affect the plants?

Maintaining a School Garden

Once your garden has been developed, you will want to keep it looking nice and manageable. This is often when teachers let their gardens get “Unmanageable” to the point that they feel that its work, rather than an educational tool. Constant weeding, upkeep and plant feeding will keep your garden from becoming and overwhelming project.

Make sure you set schedules for you and the other teachers involved as well as for the students for watering, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, harvesting and conducting general maintenance-

Sometimes afterschool or Weekend meetings/activities may be required to tackle some of the big maintenance issues. Determining who will care for the garden on weekends and holidays is also very important as the garden does not identify days of the year or weekends.

Finding Volunteers will be important if you do not want to do all the work yourself. Maintaining your garden does not have to become an overwhelming task, locating people to help you care for the garden will make your job easier and will keep your garden looking and performing great all year round.

Download the Student Garden Start-Up Package

Ready for a School Garden?

Contact Us Today!

The professionals at the Urban Farming Institute will a assist you in starting a successfully gartden.

The Bon Vivant of Broward’s Schools

As Broward County Master Gardeners and the Master Gardener Coordinator for the Broward Education Foundations’ Garden Delights Program, we have dedicated our gastro-passion for healthy foods to our local educational institutions.

With our 60 school gardens introduced by the Urban Farming Institute (UFI), no other institute or foundation can prepare you and your students to grow successfully.

In partnership with the Department of Agricultures’ Fresh-From-Florida and Florida AG In The Classroom, we utilize special UFI and State approved curricula and garden-to-classroom activities that will completely canvas all aspects of ‘STEAM‘ core curricula from the garden.

Science
Technology
Engineering
Arts
Mathematics
and much more…

FREE Gardens for Schools Information

Programs

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