Tips for Starting a School Garden
Garden tip sheet, grades 3–12
Where Do I Begin?
Below are a few tips about getting support, planning for a school garden, creating a budget, and finding funding. Once your garden is growing, be sure to check out Nature Works Everywhere videos, lesson plans, and garden activity guides that will help you teach your students the science behind how nature works for people.
- Watch the Nature Works Everywhere How-to-Garden video Planning Your Garden.
- Watch Nature Works Everywhere How-to-Garden video Build A Garden in a Day.
- Use the Plant for Success Guide (PDF) from Grow to Learn NYC to guide you through building community support, creating a vision, fundraising, creating a garden calendar, and making a press release about your garden project.
- See this book Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden (PDF) from Western Growers Foundation. This resource is for Arizona, but the basic principles are applicable to all gardens.
- Learn from Kids Gardening how to plan a sustainable school garden by building a team encouraging active student participation.
- Read Kids Gardening’s advice on determining a place for the garden and conducting a site analysis.
- Learn about planting and soil preparation from Kids Gardening.
- Use the Nature Works Everywhere Garden Design tools to help you design your garden.
Supplies and Budgeting
- Use the Green Education Foundation’s Budget Calculator to determine costs.
- Download a detailed supply list (PDF) from Monterey County Farm to School Partnership.
Where’s the Money? Finding Grants
- Read Kids Gardening’s general tips on finding funding.
- National Gardening Association (NGA) Grants Page: sign up for their newsletter to be alerted of new grant opportunities.
- Edible Schoolyard Project has a downloadable PDF of potential funding sources.
- California School Garden Network provides grants of their own, but also has a list of grants from other sources.
- The American Academy of Dermatology’s Shade Structure Grant provides grants to organizations that are committed to sun safety.
- Whole Kids Foundation provides $2,000 grants to food education gardens at K-12 schools. They also have a newsletter for future grant opportunities.
- Annie’s Grants-for-Gardens will open their grant cycle in November 2016 for school gardens.
Writing a Proposal
- Check out The Edible Schoolyard’s Best Practices in Grant Writing.
- Read School Garden Wizard’s Frequently Asked Questions about proposal writing.
- Download School Garden Wizard’s Proposal Worksheet (PDF) to identify the important aspects of any garden proposal.
- Use the research database from Western Growers Foundation to discover research that supports the benefits of school gardens.
- Watch the Nature Works Everywhere How-to-Garden video Caring for Your Garden.
- Download Summer in the School Garden (PDF) by Pritha Golden and Karin Pfeiffer-Hoyt to find tips developing a maintenance plan and information on working with volunteers to maintain the school garden.
- Check out Kids Gardening’s summer maintenance tips.
- Tips for Starting a School Garden
Published August 2014, updated July 2016