Start a Garden

Parents: Would you like to see your child grow and eat spinach, arugula, radishes and more?
Teachers: Would you like to take your students out to the garden and bring more life to science and other subjects?
Nurses & Principals: Would you like your students to have the fun of learning in a garden, while enhancing their physical and emotional health?

If so, a Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids’ (HFHK) garden may be just the thing for your school. We will help you every step of the way, from designing and building the garden to providing our curriculum and training teachers to use it! The process usually starts when we are contacted by a parent, teacher, school nurse, librarian or other staff who wants to serve as the driver of the process and our liaison with the school. We meet with them, interested teachers, and the school principal to outline how we can work together, and decide whether the partnership would be a good fit. The school’s principal must be supportive of the project for us to proceed, and for the project to be successful.

Our Education Cultivation (EC) Program engages every child in the school in hands-on gardening activities each spring and fall, and the program consists of three phases: The Planning Phase, the Implementation Phase and the Continuation Phase. The Planning Phase can take up to a year. The Implementation Phase is usually two growing seasons, as described below. During that time, responsibility for running the program is progressively transferred from HFHK to the school, and then the school enters the Continuation Phase. HFHK provides assistance at different levels during all three phases.

Planning Phase

  • Schools are largely responsible for raising the funds necessary for establishing and supporting the garden program. There are many grants available to schools to start a garden, and HFHK will provide assistance in the form of recommending where to apply and providing a budget and examples of successful grant applications. Sometimes HFHK writes the grants to fund a school garden.
  • HFHK facilitates planning meetings. HFHK also provides guidance for selecting the school’s Garden Coordinator and establishing the Garden Steering Committee (GSC).
  • HFHK evaluates the potential garden sites around the school for suitability, and recommends a site. 
  • For building the garden, HFHK provides a list of supplies and suppliers, orders the supplies (if necessary) and oversees and coordinates garden building. The school is responsible for recruiting volunteers to build the garden.

Implementation phase

First Growing Season

HFHK works with school staff to schedule garden lessons and activities, and models all lessons by teaching the appropriate HFHK lesson to every class and teacher in the school, so that teachers who are not familiar with gardening can learn how to manage their class in the garden.

CEO and founder of HFHK Thianda Manzara leading a harvest lesson at Lombardy Elementary School.

Second Growing Season

An HFHK staff member meets with each grade level team in the school to prepare teachers for taking over the responsibility of teaching the HFHK lessons and taking their students to the garden. During the meeting, we explain how to use the HFHK Teachers’ Manual and other HFHK resources, and review teacher responsibilities. At this stage, teachers take over the responsibility of teaching the lessons, and the Garden Coordinator takes over the scheduling responsibilities.

Continuation Phase

After the implementation period is completed, an HFHK staff member continues to meet with the school’s Garden Coordinator before each growing season (contingent upon HFHK having internal funding available). HFHK also provides each school with a garden map tailored to the school’s needs, a customized garden planting kit for each teacher whose class will be planting the garden, updated lessons, incidental supplies, at least one site visit per year, and gardening advice/technical assistance. Continuation of these services is dependent on HFHK internal funding being available. HFHK is indebted to The Eliason Education and Greening Grant for helping to sustain our gardens.

Are you ready to transform your school into a Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids school?

Visit the School Garden Program page to read more about how the program works or check out Our School Partners page to see all the other schools that have joined our mission! If you’d like to talk about adding your school to our list, please use the form below to tell us a little bit about your goals and we will get back to you within 5 business days.

City or School District
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