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February 27, 2012 / Rick Swann

Resources for school gardens

One of my favorite garden quotes is from the book, How to Start a School Garden:  “School gardens are, in fact, libraries full of life, mystery, and surprise.” Being in a garden is like reading a good book—you’re never sure what is on the next page, but you can’t wait to get there and find out. These books are great ones to help kid’s get involved in the garden:

Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French, The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, and Weslandia and Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. Also a great book that connects what we eat and the environment is Reducing Your Footprint by Ellen Rodger. There are lots of fun gardening books, too, which include Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots and Sunflower Houses by Sharon Lovejoy.

Other resources to get started with a school garden are:

Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea by Alice Waters is a book that details the history of the gardening and cooking school on the grounds of Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, CA and the rationale for creating that school garden. The program’s web site ( has supplemental information and material.


How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle is a wonderful reference book if you are a parent or teacher interested in starting a garden at your school.


City Bountiful by Laura J. Larson gives an overview of community and school gardening in the United States from the 1890’s up to the present. Most of the reasons cited for school gardens 100 years ago are applicable today.


The School Garden Wizard (

was created for America’s K-12 school community through a partnership between the United States Botanic Garden and Chicago Botanic Garden. It covers every step involved in making the case for, creating, using, maintaining, and evaluating a school garden.


The National Gardening Association maintains a web site rich with ideas for gardening with children: This site also maintains a national registry of school gardens as well as sells kits, tools, and books that support a gardening curriculum.


California has emphasized school garden programs for a number of years. The California School Garden Network’s comprehensive web site can be found at:


Life Lab ( is a California-based organization that offers a number of environmental, hands-on science, and garden-based programs. The Growing Classroom – Garden and Nutrition Activity Guide is one of the best garden-based curriculum guides available. Their web site is full of useful ideas on all aspects of school gardening.

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