We are “The First State school garden experts!” Our program is specifically designed to fit into the academic year and promote student health. HFHK’s Education Cultivation program provides hands-on gardening activities through lessons that support Delaware State learning standards. Students experience “seed to table” growing each spring AND fall, and EAT fresh vegetables they’ve grown in their cafeterias.
HFHK currently works with K-12 students, and we tailor our programming to fit the needs of each school. Most of our schools are K-5 public schools, where the Education Cultivation program allows every student in a school of approximately 500 students to engage in hands-on lessons every growing season. At the elementary level, we make it practical for large numbers of students to participate in hands-on activities and still maintain a manageably-sized garden space by:
- Using fast-growing, cool-weather crops, that can be harvested 6 – 8 weeks after planting
- Employing intensive gardening practices and direct seeding, which allows up to 200 students to plant seeds with their own hands each growing season in a 250 square foot garden
- Designing lessons so that each grade level has a special job to do in the garden each growing season which ties-in with their science curriculum
Education Cultivation lessons provide opportunities for students to use all of their senses and make learning fun, regardless of students’ learning styles and capabilities. Each lesson is ~45 minutes in length, and includes an introductory piece that is taught in the classroom, followed by a hands-on gardening piece. The program can be modified as needed, but typically:
Kindergarten and First Grade plant the seeds, which ties in with their plants and organisms curricula, respectively.
Second Grade prepares the soil at the beginning of the growing season.
Third Grade waters the garden until the seeds germinate, which ties in with their water-cycle studies. They also receive a vegetable nutrition lesson, which ties in with their human body curriculum.
Fourth and Fifth Grades harvest the crops, which supports their studies of plant life-cycles and ecosystems, respectively.
Fifth Grade also cleans the garden, and composts the garden waste at the end of the growing season.
All Grades participate in the Harvest Celebrations in the school cafeterias, which feature school-garden grown vegetables.
We adapt and modify this program as necessary for upper level schools.