Best Practices

Best Practices Documents

Since 2016, School Garden Support Organizations (SGSOs) have been gathering annually for a Leadership Institute in Santa Cruz, CA hosted by Life Lab and Whole Kids Foundation. The following is a collectively created and curated set of notes from these gatherings, updated annually by Institute participants and facilitators. 

Also check out our webinars on the topics below.

Networking and Communications
We strive to ensure that all school garden stakeholders have the opportunity to participate in dynamic regional networks to connect with each other and share resources, ideas, questions, funding sources and support, and more!

Professional Development Models
Successful school garden professional development effectively supports school communities in using learning gardens as an instructional tool. It equips individuals, schools and organizations with the knowledge, language and tools to integrate the garden into the learning culture of the school or site.

Program Assessment: Measuring and Sharing Impact
We strive for school garden programs to have access to quality evaluation tools and feel empowered to use them in meaningful and useful ways to improve their own programs; communicate with partners and funders; and share with the communities they serve. 

Maintaining Multiple School Gardens
SGOS strive to support school garden that are fully functional, easy to maintain, and integrated into the schoolyard.

Sustaining & Institutionalizing School Garden Programs
We strive for all school gardens to have programs that are both financially and programmatically sustainable. 

Garden to Cafeteria Toolkit
Developed by Slow Food USA and Whole Kids Foundation, the toolkit helps school district food serve bring garden produce in to the lunch line.

School District Level Garden Programs and Resources

Education Outside School Garden Management Resources A unique collection of 50+ School Garden Management and Instructional resources – no need to reinvent the wheel! These resources were made available as Education Outside program closed and transitioned to serve different garden-based Americorps programs. These resources draw from many years of operating a successful garden-based science program in San Francisco and San Mateo County schools. They include everything from curriculum and garden educator training overviews to Top 10 garden infrastructure recommendations. Also included are resources related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Education Outside hopes you will use and/or share these resources widely.  

Berkeley Public Schools Garden and Cooking Program A longstanding district-run program that works to support academic, physical, emotional, and health development of pre-school through high school students. Visit their site to view their district wide curriculum, annual reports and recent news. 

University of Arizona Community & School Garden Program Connects students in Tucson Unified School District with their local food system and garden-based STEM learning labs. Visit their well developed site to view their program initiative, partners, curriculum, literature guides, and much more! 

Palm Beach County School District School Garden Manual A 127 page comprehensive guide of planning, installing and managing a school garden within a large school district. The guide references the various district departments that support or influence school garden programming including: Building Code Services, Environmental Conservation Services, Grant & Resource Development, Facility Services, Purchasing, Risk Management, Safety/Health Services, School Food Service. 

Office of the State Superintendent of Education School Garden Program While not technically a school district, the District of Columbia, has a well developed school garden program website and associated resources including evaluation tools, DC school grant program, and technical support/training resources. 

Share your district’s school garden program and associated resource via this School District Garden Program Survey we will include your site on this page. View Results to Our School District Garden Program Survey