Program and Financial Sustainability - Best Practices and Webinar

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John Fisher

May 1, 2017, 1:46:36 AM5/1/17
to National School Garden Network
Greetings, One outcome of the 2016 School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Leadership Institute was to create Best Practices Documents on SGSO Key Activities. View Financial and Program Sustainability Best PracticesContributors - Melina Barker, Shannon Carroll, Moses Thompson, Jess Bloomer, Amanda Fieldman, Sam Ullery
Please use this forum thread to share your ideas and resources related to sustaining school garden programs.

School gardens are tremendously popular and valuable resources, but these programs often face questions about if they can continue year-to-year. In this Webinar, we discuss dedicated garden program staffing, community engagement, and other factors that lead to programmatic sustainability. We’ll also learn from successful initiatives to secure corporate sponsorships; community partnerships; legislation; and school or district-level investments that lead to financial sustainability.

Here are some questions and answers from the webinar dialogue:
Q Who can we contact to get more information about the school district farm in Oregon?, Hi Allyson, the Bethel school district farm in Oregon is organized with the Williamette Food and Farm Coalition, you can contact the interim ED Karen Dunne at

Q Question for Gardeneers...what's the cost share scale for schools as % of total program cost and as $ value?
A Hi Gregory-according to Amanda, on average schools pay about 20% of overhead cost. For one day a week programming the overhead is between $8-10 K

Q Are any school districts that are trying to support their own programs? this is also a struggle, but there are also advantages to being part of the district and town government.
A Yes there are many districts that support their own school garden programs but they vary in the ways in which they offer support. Here are just a few. Manteca USD in California has food service staff that help by providing technical assistance and supplies. Washington D.C. OSSE, featured in the webinar, provides PD, technical assistance and grants - funded by a soda tax. Berkeley USD provides paid garden staff - funded by a soda tax. Santa Cruz City Schools provides paid garden educators - funded by a parcel tax. Detroit public schools food service has various staff the support school gardening programs. Find more in our forum on this topic here.

Q Which do you find is the best forum for talking to school districts about the benefits of school gardens and showing them examples of other funding models from around the country? One-on-one meetings? Emails? School Board meetings?
A One on one has seemed to work best for me to identify interested schools to partner with in the larger district we work with. Presentations to the school board has helped us to leverage funding for a small district wide program we work with via an Educational Parcel tax which now includes school garden-based science! I think it all depends on the size of your district.

Q Do you provide materials and resources, including educational materials for school garden programs in WDC?
A Yes OSSE has a robust collection of school garden resources

Q WHY is it important?  Have you guys articulated this elsewhere?  Do you have any evidence to demonstrate this?  (I know it personally and anecdotally, but no evidence...)
A Yes, here are a few go-to resources we reference re: WHY school gardens are important ...


Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

John Fisher - Director of Programs and Partnerships
Life Lab  •  1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA, 95064  •  831.471.7831


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