School Garden Support Organizations Unite! - A Gathering of School Garden Support Professionals

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John Fisher

Jan 13, 2014, 9:46:11 AM1/13/14
School Garden Suport Organizations Unite!
Join School Garden Support Professionals from across the nation on April 15th from 2:00 - 5:30 for a 
Newtorking Gathering as part of the

Register for the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

RSVP is required.
Register through the conference website.

John Fisher

Feb 7, 2014, 5:10:29 PM2/7/14
Note: Due to the awesome field trip schedule that features many school gardens our gathering time will change to start at 3:30. 
John Fisher, Life Lab
National School Garden Network Advisory Group

John Fisher

Apr 14, 2014, 12:21:45 PM4/14/14
Greetings, I am quite excited to network with so many school garden support organizations at the Farm to Cafeteria Conference.

Here's a graphical profile of 85 of the 187 registrants that answered our pre-survey. The 85 organizations support / provide services to 21,000 school gardens! We've got a great movement brewing!


John Fisher - Director of Programs and Partnerships

Life Lab  •  1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA, 95064  •  831.459.5395  -  831.459.3483 (fax)

Teaching people to care about themselves, each other, and the world through farm- and garden-based programs.  

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John Fisher

Jun 16, 2014, 11:27:53 AM6/16/14

110 School Garden Support Organizations gathered as a pre conference offering of the 2014 Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Austin TX on April 15th. Our session allowed school garden support organizations to network and share best practices. The notes below were taken by various volunteer facilitators of small "world cafe" type breakout groups. 

The purple notes are responses to how this network can continue to grow and serve others.

The rest of the notes share the types of work school garden support organizations are doing to support school gardens.

Our pre survey of 85 participants told us that collectively we support over 21,000 school gardens and these graphics tell a bit more about school garden support organizations.

Breakout Session Notes: Brainstorm ways - how can we make this network continue to grow?

What is this network going to be - nathan larson asks, "how does the Network support us and how can we support the Network? The Network can add legitimacy to local efforts, policy and lobbying for legislation to protect school gardens. The Network can promote the benefits of school gardens in a nationwide education campaign. We can support the Network by helping with funding, sharing local resources and best practices with the Network.

How could this network support you? How can you support this network?

Linking us with regional supports

How could we get funding?

Challenging to fund intermediary organization

What communication/existing network models could work for our network?

Something like COMFOOD?

Could you host a gathering for others?

Montgomery, AL – AL insurance program and AL Ag in the classroom) will host a panel that brings all garden ed programs together so they can hear garden education

Regional meetings might be more practical and useful in the long run

How can this network support you?

Great place to post questions

Place to get inspired

Place to direct / connect people that leave my state and on to greener pastures

Getting resources so that I don’t have to recreate the wheel.

How can you support this network?

Post resources and share ideas

Facilitate a webinar (Karen Lyall)

Sharing best practices, making connections, inspiration from other perspectives. Open curriculum sharing.

Break down into Regional networks/hubs. Meet once a year at location within driving distance. Specific Topics. Or Unite with other well known regional conferences with specified section for school gardens/farm to school.

Post a list of people by state, by skills they are willing to share, i.e., classroom management strategies by age level

Principals told Science teachers that they needed to figure out at least one thing that they could use in their classroom to add to the school garden teaching outside.

Provide training regionally. Use Ag in the classroom teachers to help do this.  

Organize teacher training - arrange for credits to be given to teachers for attending the courses/workshops.

One School Garden Network follower "follows" the network, but never posts anything.  Doesn’t feel like she is a part of it.  It seems like it is over her head - talking about taxes, etc.  She gets good information from the site, but she doesn't feel like what she is doing pertains to most of the discussion topics.

Post a map of each state to show who these network people at our meeting today  who are supporting school gardens in ____ (fill in the blank State) - make the connections easier to make.

Have a 60 second outdoor mental preparation checklist.

Breakout Session Notes: Successful strategy to support multiple school gardens.

Need buy in from teachers, principals, district

Volunteers – wouldn’t get half the work done without them

Paid student Co-op employees (Mercantile Education Association) help in the garden

Denver, CO created manual for school garden – as you create the gardens accumulate materials for a best practices guide

Garden committee and F2S planning committee working together

Get facilities staff onboard

Create curriculum that teachers can use – there are some out there but all need to be tailored to each district and community

Each school NEEDS a garden committee that is the heart and soul of the program

Not a lot of money for people – can get funding for supplies, seeds, etc

Get free seeds and equipment from community

Get district to create permanent garden coordinator position

Successful strategy to support multiple school gardens:

Amazing news – 350 school gardens in NYC

Lawrence KA – coop helps hire youth for school gardens, produce is sold and used in cafeteria, id youth that change the way their peers want to eat, 5 students

Montgomery, AL – employ youth in summer (10 kids); gets contract with schools to commit to teacher PD, parent buy, etc.

Somerville, MA – employs youth through city of Somerville youth summer employment program to help maintain gardens (4 kids)

Edible Schoolyard - Paid internship for youth to maintain school gardens (4 kids)   

Bellingham, WA – school based (youth sellers) ebt accessible farm stand using produce from partner farmer

Albuquerque, NM – teaching science at an independent school (not standards based) - can use the garden as much as she wants (1 acre garden). Has 2 garden managers but the kitchen can’t handle fresh produce. Main goal to get produce into kitchens.

School Co-op employs students to operate gardens

sell produce to the school district or other CSA's

Dept of Ag (Jeff Raska) Master Gardeners - provide background worksheet for any school that is looking to start a school garden- developing a model for them to follow.

Master Gardener - teachers love having volunteers teaching in the garden.  They use the science-based curriculum.

having coordinators whether volunteer or paid is essential.  working with District for a garden coach at each school.  the liaison that works with the teachers in their school.

Hosts Garden tours - invite the Supt. the Nutrition Director, the Curriculum director.  Have students talk about what they learn in the garden, what they like about the garden.

Botanical Garden in Naples,FL - Created a series of workshops for teachers and garden coordinators - composting, garden cover, helped to create awareness among the local districts.  The started using their buying power.

Cora—Berkeley, Volunteers at Edible

Karissa—DC, Food Access, does PD for garden coordinators

Celeste—F2S Coordinator in Washington State, got a planning grant for her small school district.

Explore the possibilities related to leveraging colleges and universities

·        Colleges/unis have an easier time getting funding (compared to nonprofits)

·        Lots of willing intern energy to draw on (students)

Focus on Pre-service Trainings (potential teachers)!

Check out the Gates foundation. They support lots of health-focused programs.

On local level, work on legislation and policy support.

·        In DC, they offer school garden grants. 80% of the allocated money has to be spent on staff. Great model. Funds come from the Soda Tax (Healthy Schools Project), and are supplemented by the PTAs.

·        Schools get aide positions specifically for school gardens.

·        They offer free garden trainings, hands-on & align the trainings with district PD days.

Train-the-Trainers programs—cost money, but are good for sustainability

·        Find a teacher to partner with who knows about curriculum

·        Incorporate garden-based education into college curricula

·        Develop an internship program with college students.

Nathan Larson – WI Community Groundworks is Supporting Professional Learning Communities for Teachers Dev Curriculum and Resources.  and Partnering with Public Heath and utalitizing lobbying, funding and support.  Doctors

Malory Foster from FNS Florida  Cooperative Extention supports school gardens to provide materials and trainings

Thianda Manzara from DE Serve 22 school gardens in simple and doable ways

Sam Ullery from DC is using Funding from the  Healthy Schools Act to fund School garden Coordinators

Brad from Washington State  Maintains 50 some gardens across the state and has Identified a person who can support the school.  Including curricular resources, tool

Theressa from the Univ of California Cooperative Extension- First GAP training for school gardens to get school garden produce into schools and future jobs for students.

Stephan Leonard has 43 school gardens BUT will have 68 soon.  County School District 3 paid staff dedicated to farm to school program.

Karen Lyall is the Wellness Coordinator for a school which is still growing and well integrated into the curriculum and including an outdoor kitchen.  Sandia Prep School.

Notes from John's School Garden Workshop

What are these incredible things that these folks are doing??

Robert Rusan

Robin Thacker, Food Service Director from Nocogdoches ISD, making every project fun - they have professionals from. SFA college that do the training and master level students come and help. Teachers get education hours. They fund the garden out of the Food service budget. Susan Le Blanc, from Barbers Hills ISD in Mont Belvieu, TX, got the garden going, use the garden vegetables in the lunches. She has been involved in all aspects. Cindy Barry, from ledge light Health District, in CT (notetaker) is just starting and offered mini grants to six schools.

What are these incredible things that these folks are doing??

Teri Hamlin, georgia Organics in Atlanta, GA - running a pilot project collecting data from kids experiencing school gardens and watching changing behavior. Nathan larson from Community GroundWorks in Madison, WI has a CSA farm, community garden and youth program, prof dev for teachers. They have a Mr garden is my classroom initiative. They do training for teachers. They offer a graduate course that gives teachers credit through the University of the Pacific. Strategy - most powerful is partnership with public health! Luann Hughes through Rutgers cooperative extension, funds garden enhanced school wellness projects that create a wellness environment. Oversee 12 gardens in 2 counties in partnership with Food Corp. They do professional development on wellness and gardens, parent education. The CDC will do a free program and will come to you, called "Training Tools for Healthy Schools". Health Dept Glouster County. For more information contact Luann Hughes hug...@rce.rutgers

Successful strategy that you or someone else has employed to support multiple school gardens:

Laura Platt Common Threads, Bellingham WA  Successful strategy: staff school gardens: hiring, training, supervision, meet weekly to make sure building on eachother’s bet practices

Pam Koch Teachers College, Columbia University  350 school gardens out of 1800 public schools. Trying to come up with models and framework based on your org structure

Jesicca Borkosky  Food Service Director  Just getting started : planning grant for school lunch– asked for forgiveness not permission to receive the grant

Jessica Ferrell  Stanford Prevention Research Center  Approach principles at school- start with admin buy in at elementary schools

Whitney Cohen  Life Lab  Run free and low cost training through CA School Garden Training program, then allow the trainers to get mini grants to train the trainers, now starting to implement local convenings for support organizations

Emilie Gioia allows educators to connect and share curriculum and best practices across and around the country.

Malina Barker  Rogue Valley Farm to School, Ashland, Oregon  Volunteer garden coordinators to support 20 school gardens, $500 stipend, 6 workshops/trainings, cohort of regional training. Check on garden once a week to ensure maintenance, and commit to 10 garden activities over the course of the growing season.

Bernadette Harris  Community Service of Northeast Texas, Linden, TX Childcare wellness, farm to childcare, work with nine independent school district with own set of rules and regulation, adapting all nine to their environments. Now trying to take the programming from PreK to higher levels.  Work with the education specialists.

Lisa Gonzalez  SNAP ED  Baltimore, MD,  School garden in trainers now get continuing education credits (2) and provide toolkits. 4 days of training. Provide curriculum.

Kyle Cornforth (ESY Berkeley)

- Publish curriculum online at

- Trainings at Edible Academy involves follow up to see if they use online resources

- Wrote formal 3 year middle school curriculum in a year and posted it online

Virginia Roberts (Purdue University Extension)

- principal needs to be on board but not in charge for it to be successful

- parents, teachers, and community members need to run the show/be involved

Kathleen de Chanenedes (School Food initiative at Orfalea in Santa Barbara)

- paying a garden manager to make the program sustainable

- local nonprofit that does environmental education has taken over

- PTA pays for supplies and School District also pays ~6k per school

Liz Driscoll (NC State Extension, FoodCorps)

- State Farm to school coalition to increase support of school garden

- 4H program is easier to sell than some other programs (science through gardening)

Kathleen Byron (Good Food Sandhills, NC)

- Funders provide healthcare dollars

- sustainability is challenging but parents are getting involved, but informally (needs to be formal)

Morgan Rogers (Edible Schoolyard NYC and Group Anchor Extraordinaire)

- Garden and Kitchen curriculum is tied to common core standards

- Teaching free professional development to share resources and best practices

- Approved NYC Dept of Ed Professional Development vendor, so DOE teachers can get continued ed credit for coming to ESYNYC PD sessions.

Whitney Cohen (Life Lab, Santa Cruz)

- GBarn (greater Bay Area regional network)

- very worthwhile gatherings to share out models and best practices

Elizabeth Lane (Sierra harvest, CA)

- curriculum has changed so drastically in the last year to focus on Common Core

- aligns curriculum with Common Core standards

Matt Belasco (Pittsburg Unified School District, CA)

- There are great challenges in this district to get stakeholders on board, but Matt's here to learn successful strategies and sees this as an opportunity for great change. We agree!

Introduce yourself and successful strategy:

Wendy Madson: Healthy Community Coalition, NV. school gardens. Success: STEM started in schools and STEM electives in 2 schools. 2-6 High School Interns help teachers with gardens

Laurie Niles: Advocacy Group. Chico Eat Learn Grow, Chico, CA.

Community Gardens partnering with city, finding pertinent partners. Time Investment to build it.

Megan Phinny: St. Pual, MN ASA Peace Sanctuary Garden. Volunteer Master Gardener. Teach science based material to support teachers as volunteer.

Erin Taylor: graduate program for teaching. MA. Linking to curriculum is priority for success.  School garden coordinators run gardens so teachers are not gardeners.

Elise Echele: CA: coordinate Healthy School Project. Ventura School District. COOP Ext service had 5 acre lot. They partnered to grow for schools.

Ava Bynum: Hudson Valley Seeds non profit, NY. Focus on evaluation tools. Evaluate education. Pre and post surveys. Dept of health analyzing data. Impact, Secure additional funding. United Way funds program and connects with Health Dept.

Erin Hirte: Portland, OR. Multnomah county schools. Struggle to connect garden to cafeteria. Speak for Portland Public Schools with Growing Gardens organization.

Liz Driscoll, NC State University, Raleigh, NC. Statewide Farm to School Coalition and using this a connector point across the state.  Leveraging existing programs and resources. COOP Extension with agriculture.

Mary Thompson, Apple Seeds, Fayetteville, AR. Apple Seeds is working through a successful strategy of connecting Master Gardeners to be mentors of new school gardens and work with the school garden committee at different schools in their county.

Slow food gardens

Protocols for chickens

Lessons about where food comes from

Focus on one thing, have a purpose

Clearinghouse for seeds. Distribute to schools.

Committee at each school to operate garden

College grads to provide education -outside, write curriculum

3 and 4 day workshops for teachers on how to incorporate garden into curriculum

Campus managers as garden advocates

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