Photo: Julien Elementary School garden, Turlock, Calif.

Photo: North Junior High Garden-to-Plate Class, Boise, Idaho

Photo: Julien Elementary School garden, Turlock, Calif.

Photo: Enrich LA, Los Angeles

Photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York

Photo: Woodland Elementary garden, Gages Lake, Ill.

Photo: Battery Urban Farm, New York City

Photo: Woodland Elementary garden, Gages Lake, Ill.

Photo: The School 5 Teaching Garden, City Green, Patterson, N.J.

Photo: Columbia Housing and Redevelopment Community Garden, 
​Columbia, Tenn.

Photo: Earthworks Urban Farm, Detroit

Photo: The School 5 Teaching Garden, City Green, Patterson, N.J.

Instructions / Guides

These guides and resources can help you build, maintain and justify a garden project:

Community Garden Start-Up Guide - University of California Coop. Extension, LA County

Composting Guide from Renee's Garden Seeds

If you can only do one thing to improve your garden this year, build a compost pile. No matter your soil type, your climatic zone, or your choice of crops, composting will enhance your garden soil, resulting in stronger plants and healthier produce. Organic gardeners have long regarded compost as the cornerstone of garden soil fertility. Compost builds healthy soil, producing robust plants that are more resistant to pests and disease.

Compost Happens - Jean Persely and Cynthia Domenghini, NGA 

Jean shares ideas to get kids interested in composting and discusses a successful district-wide composting initiative.

Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden Trainer Materials - California School Garden Network

Free resources for those creating and sustaining school gardens, including handouts, guides, presentations.

Creating Gardens With Youth

A concise outline for how to start an educational garden by University of Maine Cooperative Extension educators.

The Early Childhood Environmental Education Rating Scale 

A new evaluative tool from the North American Association for Environmental Education provides a framework to show how your garden program aligns with established guidelines for high-quality environmental education programs for young children. The scale is useful in sparking discussion on program goals, considering a program’s strengths and areas of needed improvement, and charting a future direction. 

Garden Activity Timeline by Month  - Woodland Elem. West, Gages Lake, Ill.

Good Plant Choices for School / Youth Gardens - Gary Comer Youth Center, Chicago

Growing Seeds to Enjoying the Harvest  

Renee's Garden Seeds offers numerous articles covering various topics in an easy-to-find format.  

How To Start A School Garden: A Practical AND Philosophical Guide - Civic Knowledge Project, University of Chicago

This report was commissioned to help Chicago Public Schools add school gardens to their curricula. Humanities education is critical to human growth and development on a communal and personal level, and the humanities and the environment are inextricably connected. 

How to Use an Outdoor Classroom for Hands-On Learning

A great video of how Thomas Gardner Elementary School in Boston uses their outdoor space for hands-on learning.  Share with school administrators; get more ideas for engaging students!

Low Maintenance Gardening Strategies - Gary Comer Youth Center, Chicago

Native Plant Gardens for Schools and Urban Areas: A Survival Guide - Betsey Landis © 2009.  Describes native plant communities / habitat gardens,  considerations before selection and purchasing native plants or seeds, the architecture of common native plant habitats, Southern California sources for plants and information. 

​Pumpkins & More - University of Illinois Extension

History, nutrition, how to grow, recipes, festivals.

School Garden Start-Up Guide - University of California Coop. Extension, LA County

School Garden Viability Assessment - Green Teacher Network

A survey for anyone started or re-investing in an existing school garden. Easily modified for any region.

School Garden Wizard  - Chicago Botanic Garden

Advice and tips from presenting the garden idea to the school board to maintaining the garden in the long term.

Seed Buying 101: A Seed Gardener's Glossary

How often do you hear or find yourself wondering what is the difference between an heirloom and an open-pollinated seed variety, an F-1 hybrid and a “GMO? This article from the Home Garden Seed Association can  help you make educated decisions about what is best for your own use.

Seed Saving Video  - LifeLab

Fall is one of the best times to collect seeds from the garden. Last fall Life Lab roamed the farm collecting flower seeds and left no petals unturned in the following flower seed saving video. 

Seed Tape - An Easy Way to Make Your Own

This article from Organic Gardening offers a simple way to ensure proper spacing of small seeds using a readily available item - toilet paper!

Seed-to-Table Gardens - Gary Comer Youth Center, Chicago

Setting Up and Running a School Garden

This online book is by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations offers instructions, food fact sheets, nutrition guidelines and more. 

Soil: To Test or Not to Test?

An excellent perspective on whether or not to conduct a soil test, by Vince Lazaneo, UCCE Horticulture Advisor and Master Gardener Advisor in San Diego County.

Successful Container Gardens - University of Illinois Cooperative Extension

Tips for Working with Children in Gardens - DC Schoolyard Greening

Attendees of the Get Out and Garden Teacher Training Workshop share collective wisdom for gardening with children.

USDA People's Garden Initiative

A collaborative gardening project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, providing gardening and healthy eating tips, plans, pollinator guides.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map  

This updated map lets you search for hardiness zones by zip code or view detailed state maps.

Volunteer Job Descriptions  - Woodland Elem. West, Gages Lake, Ill.

Indoor Growing Help

Classroom Seed Planting Instructions - Woodland Elem. West, Gages Lake, Ill.

How to Create Classroom Grow-Light Systems

Master Gardeners in Mathews, Va., share how they construct one-tier grow-light systems for seed starting in fourth-grade classrooms.

Grow-Light Frame Plans

Instructions for building a low-cost grow-light frame from Cornell University 


How to Grow a Pollinator Garden from Seed

The Home Garden Seed Association ( offers a list of easy-to-grow-from-seed flowers that pollinators love.


Meet the Beneficials: Natural Enemies of Garden Pests

Free poster of common garden predators from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program


Children and Nature Initiative: Rx for Outdoor Activity (archived webinar) - The National Environmental Education Foundation

Explore the link between childhood obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, the physical and mental health benefits of nature, and how to connect children and families to nature for outdoor activity. 

Take the Common Core Outdoor: School gardens offer lessons beyond science and healthy eating - The Harvard Education Letter - An editorial by Jane S. Hirschi on the school garden as outdoor classroom. 

Assessing a Garden-based Curriculum for Elementary Youth in Iowa: Parental Perceptions of Change - Iowa State University Study

Effect of the National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitat Program on Fourth Grade Students' Standardized Test Scores - Cornell University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University Study

Growing Environmental Stewards: The Overall Effect of a School Gardening Program 2008 - Texas A&M University Study

Growing Minds: The Effect of a School Gardening Program on the Science Achievement of Elementary Students 2005 - National Gardening Assn & Texas State University Study

Neighborhood Greenness and 2-Year Changes in Body Mass Index of Children and Youth - University of Washington, Indiana and Purdue Universities

School Gardens Grow Science Achievement Scores - National Science Teachers Association

The Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America - The National Gardening Association 

Spanish Language Resources

Bilingual Dictionary of Garden Terms

"A Garden of Words/Un jardín de palabras" is a bilingual gardening dictionary produced by University of California Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County and University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

Bilingual Children's Books

Nuestra Huerta Generosa and Nuestro Super Jardin are Spanish/English editions of the children's books, Our Generous Garden and Our Super Garden.

Vegetable Gardening Basics

A Spanish version of the popular University of Illinois Extension website. 

Using Garden Produce in School Cafeterias

Contact organizations to learn if more current guidelines exist.

USDA Guidelines on Using School Garden Produce in Food Service

Q&A document from 2009 regarding the operation of a school garden. 

Garden-to-School Cafeteria Protocol Denver Public Schools

A step-by-step guide for the safe growing and harvesting of school garden produce specifically for use in school meals. Developed by Slow Food Denver in conjunction with Denver Public Schools.