Gardening in Schools, Boarding Sites & Early Care Sites
Get Started with an On-Site Garden
Looking to start a new garden project? You’re in the right place for resources and tips on how to build a sustainable, educational, and empowering place for students. Check out the links below!
This learning module is geared for 4th grade learners to help them explore the fundamental knowledge needed to grow a garden, then plan and execute their own project!
Garden-Based Lesson Plans
These resources are full of lesson plans for connecting what you’re growing to educational curriculum:
Big Green has garden curriculum for children in K-8, and for high school aged teens in one, easily accessible spot: Bite-sized lessons and activity bundles for educators. These lesson bundles provide activities and lessons on garden and food related subjects.
This manual is designed as an introduction for educators who are beginning to explore ways to incorporate a greenhouse as a hands-on learning environment for students of all ages. It offers information and resources both for teachers interested in establishing a new project, as well as for those who already have access to an existing greenhouse or hoop house.
Local Gardening Resources
Check out these resources for getting in touch with garden experts in your area, navigating the logistics of growing a garden, or connecting to much-needed people power:
Partners at University of Illinois Extension offices are a boon for any farm to school, or garden program! The Master Gardeners program has supported many school gardens in Illinois and provide opportunities for support in all of Illinois’ 102 counties. You can find a complete county contact list for the Master Gardener programs here.
For Chicago sites, AUA has resources for operating gardens within city codes and using compost. They also lead volunteer field days to help sites maintain or build their gardens.
Illinois Farm to School Network has created a Taste Test Toolkit for Illinois based feeding and garden sites. The Taste Test Toolkit is a part of the Illinois Harvest of the Month program, a free program encouraging child feeding and garden sites to feature and and explore a monthly garden, or local food item.
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!
Gardeneers works with Chicago’s South- and Westside schools and communities to contribute positively to the larger food system. We do this by supporting youth in our school garden and farm programs to build their own knowledge, skills, and habits to become leaders who care for themselves, their environment, and their communities.
The SGSO Network is an open peer-to-peer learning network with the goal of growing, sustaining and elevating a movement of equitable garden-based education. This is a free service!
Check out these resources on ensuring your garden produce aligns with food safety standards:
IL Public Act 100-0505 passed in June 2018 which allows schools to serve fresh garden produce grown by students with safety protocols in place. You can read it by clicked on the link above.
Best Practices for Food Safety in the School Garden provides a short list of points of concern for garden food safety practices and links to best practices.
Make Food Safety a Priority in Your Garden contains a 5-page toolkit with steps to ensure garden foods are safe to consume.The kit includes Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP).
Food Safety Tips for School Gardens is a 6-page guide with tips which lead to written practices for safe garden food management. This tool kit includes safety practices from choosing the garden site, to chemical usage, planting and harvest.
Illinois Garden Case Studies
Beautiful gardens are growing across the state! Check out the case studies below to get inspired. Do you have a garden story to share? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured below!
Students at Westmont High School in DuPage County, Illinois are growing food indoors and out!
Lisa Hootman, science teacher, manages the Westmont High School garden program Earth to School. Westmont has expanded their garden from 8 raised outdoor beds to 16. They added indoor hydroponics incorporating high school curriculum from biology, chemistry, environmental science, math, and business. In the fall, the school donates part of their harvest to the People’s Resource Center in Westmont. They also hold an autumn Farmer’s Market in conjunction with school athletic activities. The garden is truly year-round and also feeds the students in the form of classroom tastings, and on the lunch line! Lisa worked with a company called Root 66, based in Brookfield, to install the hydroponic garden. Westmont High School is doing great work teaching students how to grow and eat more veggies!