Strengthening Equity & Inclusion in Garden Education
The resources on this page have been shared by SGSO Network members, and collectively curated by participants in the 2021 National SGSO Leadership Institute, listed below. We invite you to contribute your own resources to share with the SGSO Network on the topic of equity & inclusion in garden education.
The intention behind this compilation of resources is to identify tools that can help SGSOs begin to do some of the work to answer these big questions and find the best ways to intertwine equity, inclusivity, diversity, and justice into all aspects of each school garden support organization.
The Big Questions We Are Asking:
How can we better recognize the ways that systemic oppression shows up in our organizations, programs, gardens and relationships with each other, children/youth, and our communities?
How can the leadership in our organizations be continually learning from, responsive to, and reflective of our team and the communities we work with?
How can we assess our culture and structure and then seek to strengthen these to be inclusive, equitable and anti-oppressive?
How can we best uplift and collaborate with community?
How can our efforts be culturally responsive and consistently center young voices?
We want to appreciate and thank all of the groups who have shared resources and promising practices linked below, and the participants in the Strengthening Equity and Inclusion in Garden Education Working Group at the 2021 National School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute, listed at the bottom of this website.
NOTE ON LANGUAGE: We recognize that language and terms can evolve concurrently with the progress of this very complex conversation. We are aware that new, more descriptive terms will continue to arise. Our overall goal is to use clear and consistent terms throughout this document while inspiring big picture, systems change. Toward this end, we used the following definitions, from a compilation created by Youth Outside, to guide our work.
Psychological, physical, and social differences that occur among any and all individuals, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, socioeconomic status, education, body type, marital status, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, and learning styles. A diverse group, community, or organization is one in which a variety of social and cultural characteristics exist. (The National Multicultural Institute)
The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of certain groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups. (UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity) (See Image below for an illustration of equity and justice)
The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. (UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity)
Systemic devaluing, undermining, marginalization, and disadvantaging of certain social identities in contrast to the privileged norm; when some people are denied something of value, while others have ready access. (WPC Glossary from 14th Annual White Privilege Conference Handbook)
Culturally responsive-sustaining education advances educational justice by centering and valuing students’ cultures and identities; using rigorous and relevant curriculum, and anti-oppressive teaching practices; building strong positive relationships between students, families, and school staff; and supporting students to develop the knowledge, skills, and vision to transform the world toward liberation.
HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE COMPILATION
A lot of times, when organizations start conversations about strengthening equity and inclusion, focus is placed on one area, like hiring or programming. This guide is designed to create a big picture approach that appreciates the importance of weaving the guiding lights of equity, inclusion, diversity and justice throughout all aspects of an organization, its work, processes, and relationships. This involves all members of the group, from the board to leadership to volunteers, participants and staff.
This compilation covers what we have been able to identify as the major components of full systems change in SGSOs. Each focus area listed below informs the other areas. This resource is by no means comprehensive. Rather, we tried to highlight just a few helpful resources for each key area. Depending on your context, you might choose to read this top to bottom, or you might jump to the section with resources most relevant to your current goals.
Resources for Strengthening Equity & Inclusion in Garden Education
Learning and Unlearning About Equity, Inclusion and the Perpetuation of Unjust Systems
Why Is It Important that SGSOs Work Toward Equity and Inclusion, and Ultimately Justice?
Without a central focus on social justice, how we bound our system — and influence the structures, people, and invisible fabric that connects its foundational elements — is susceptible to unnamed bias and assumptions. We might also ignore the historic context that shaped our current systems in the United States, and pursue change efforts that don’t address the patterns of the White, patriarchal, abilist dominant culture that uphold our inequitable system. This article from Learning for Justice highlights that the first steps towards understanding and facing these broken/oppressive systems is to genuinely make the time and concerted effort to best understand our own and collective roles and impact as educators within it.
Questions we ask along the way might include:
● What does transformative systems change look like in the field?
● Where are we seeing real shifts in power and lasting transformation?
● What is different about the approaches led by people of color, women, immigrants and others groups who are leading this work and often on the
periphery of dominant narratives about systems change?
How do SGSOs Begin to Learn and Unlearn About Equity, Inclusion, and the Perpetuation of Unjust Systems?
Educational equity exists when “policies, practices, interactions, and resources, are representative of, constructed by, and responsive to all people such that each individual has access to, can meaningfully participate, and make progress in high-quality learning experiences that empowers them towards self-determination and reduces disparities in outcomes regardless of individual characteristics and cultural identities” (Fraser, 2008; Great Lakes Equity Center, 2013). In order to begin working toward building a more equitable and just environment, it can be very helpful to first create a shared vision and defined vocabulary, like the examples offered above, to guide a group’s work. In developing a shared vision and definitions, it is essential to include diverse voices. Addressing current inequities and organizational shortfalls can start when a systems change effort is led by a clear vision that recognizes the unique and individual needs and abilities of everyone in the group. The effort seeks to repair, restore, and lift up relationships and connections across people and communities to support shared stewardship for change.
a. Ensuring leadership buy-in for organizational learning to be sustainable.
b. Allocating time and resources prepares the ecosystem for learning.
c. Creating space for the discomfort that this work will bring up and intentional self care.
d. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources from Meyer Memorial Trust – Includes a DEI Spectrul Tool to assess an organization’s progress on DEI
e. Committing or re-committing to centering equity work in an organization.
f. Uplifting Indigenous Voices and Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
iv. Land Acknowledgement Guide: US Department of Arts and Culture. “We call on all individuals and organizations to open all
public events and gatherings with acknowledgment of the traditional Native inhabitants of the land.”
g. Uplifting Youth Voices
i. Including Youth Voice in Educational Settings, from Great Lakes Equity Center: Research Brief. This brief introduces youth
participatory action research (YPAR) as a powerful equity tool that centers youth perspectives and participation in school change.
ii. Youth Voice: Standards of Practice, This resource comes from a Pittsburgh area network to support youth agency. “By taking
students seriously, and giving them the tools and resources they need to meaningfully act, we challenge them to change the dominant narrative and lead in their learning and their lives.”
h. Sharing responsibility for planning, leading, and engaging in equitable practices while making sure that BIPOC/Global Majority
folks do not carry the burden of advancing equity work.
a. Organizational Race/Equity Toolkit, Washington Race Equality & Justice Initiative: Planning Toolkit with planning documents, goal
setting forms, etc. The resource guides users through several aspects of what it means to undertake race equity work within an
b. Structural Racism in Food Systems, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems: An annotated bibliography on
structural racism in the US food system
c. Organizational Caucuses to Support Equity, from Racial Equity Tools: To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and
people of color to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups.
Many SGSOs find it helpful to bring in external experts and facilitators to support their organizational learning and unlearning processes. Below are a handful of organizations that offer Professional Development, gatherings and/or trainings on Equity
b. Books or presentations about Equity and Inclusion
i. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Nonprofit Learning Lab – A curated list of books and other learning resources
iv. Talk by Dr. Seena Skelton and Dr, Kathleen King Thorius – This 20-Minute Talk/Vodcast is an introductory discussion of the
need for an Anti-Racism Vodcast Series and the MAP Center’s anti-racist stance, featuring guests Dr. Seena Skelton, Director of Operations of the MAP Center, and Dr. Kathleen King Thorius, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Equity Center and the MAP Center.
v. Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones, Dismantling Racism in the Children and Nature Movement – Presented at the 2020 Children and
Nature Network‘s Inside-Out Leadership Summit. There is a garden analogy that helps highlight the meaning of structural, internalized, and personally-mediated racism, starting around minute 29.
c. Tips for Navigating Equity Conversations
d. Learning by Example: Here are a handful of example groups that have had a long-term commitment towards building their
organizations and work with an applied equity and social justice lens.
◾ Food What?! – California
◾ Grow Dat Youth Farm – Louisiana
◾ East New York Farms! – New York
◾ Grow Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania
◾ City Blossoms – Washington, DC
◾ W.K. Kellogg Foundation – National
◾ Youth Outside – California
b. Organizational Race/Equity Toolkit, Washington Race Equality & Justice Initiative: Planning Toolkit with planning documents, goal
setting forms, etc. The resource guides users through several aspects of what it means to undertake race equity work within an organization.
National Farm to School Network’s racial and social equity priority by increasing our understanding of the work in the context of structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism.
d. REJI ORGANIZATIONAL RACE EQUITY TOOLKIT, JustLead Washington
Embedding Equity and Inclusion into Organizational Leadership
● How do we uplift youth voices when making strategic decisions that will guide our organization’s and team’s growth for the next three years?
● Are there ways to improve our leadership to be more equitable?
● How can our Board of Directors and leadership establish ongoing relationships with our community members, participants and staff to be well
informed and community-connected when making organizational decisions?
● How can our Board and leadership best reflect and represent those we are dedicated to working with in and out of the gardens?
● Do we fundraise in a way that is aligned with our organization and community’s values?
● Do we spend our funds in the most equitable way possible that reinvests in our surrounding community?
When best practiced a strategic plan becomes the compass of an organization’s trajectory. Naturally then it may be helpful that the next time an organization goes through this process it asks itself: Who is involved in these conversations and what is their level of participation? How can the plan best reflect our mission, values and goals to embed equity throughout the organization? How is this plan going to be implemented in a way that everyone on the team is included and holds some form of responsibility?
Pie Ranch – Example Strategic Plan: Pie Ranch 2014-2017 Strategic Plan is a model of an educational farm program that has used its strategic plan to highlight and name the efforts their group will be taking on to strengthen their organization’s internal and programmatic practices.
GROW DAT Youth Farm – Example Organizational Values and Commitments: This organization created a public-facing Organizational Values and Commitments statement that is in depth and transparent for anyone inside and outside the organization’s community.
Roadmap: This is a national network of consultants with a mission to strengthen social justice organizations and the social justice sector through capacity building, peer learning and field building. Their website includes a directory of individuals with various areas of organizational support expertise
Once a plan is designed and accepted, it is usually the responsibility of a Board of Directors and an organization’s leadership (whether an Executive Director, Co-Directors, or a Collective) to manage its implementation. In order to best accomplish this task while creating an environment where the rest of the team feels empowered and a sense of trust, the Board and leadership team may want to reflect on how they embody and represent the ideals of social justice and equity within their roles and decision-making power. Below are resources to build an inclusive, representative and proactive board, as well as help leaders strengthen its own understanding of possible biases or blindspots that are harming their organization while also strengthening their management skills to create the most conducive environment for equitable growth.
Green 2.0 – Supporting Research & Transparency: This group is dedicated towards keeping track of large environmental movement groups and their moves towards becoming more inclusive. They provide data to support findings. Check out the deep 2014 report and the annual report cards. This is a good way to start the conversation with backed data on the need to diversify leadership.
The Governance Gap – Examining Diversity and Equity on Nonprofit Boards of Directors: This survey and report are the results of a single, simple premise: to build a truly diverse and inclusive nonprofit sector that reflects the realities of the people that so many organizations work with, change must start at the top.
Green Leadership Trust – Board Recruitment: For organizations looking to recruit new board members, this group is dedicated to connecting professionals who identify as people of color with environmentally focused non-profits.
The Management Center – Managing for Racial, Equity, Inclusion and Results: We all can benefit from continued education. The Management Center helps leaders working for social change build and run more effective, equitable, and sustainable organizations. They specifically offer trainings for leadership teams to how they manage for racial,equity, inclusion and results.
How can an organization strengthen youth leadership within its planning and management? Children and Youth voices can be captured either directly or from teachers through surveys and interviews during strategic planning. Board and leadership can connect with children and youth through on-going community events, meaningful activities and mentorship. Financially, funding can be reinvested directly to youth. And finally an organization can build transparent and attainable pathways to power and decision-sharing by including youth voices on the board, an advisory group, providing fellowships for aging-up youth, bridge a transition from participation to meaningful employment and organizational impact. This can take a significant amount of time and resources but with a clear plan is achievable and builds a more authentic organization for everyone involved.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Guide for Engaging Youth in Decision Making and Planning: This pretty simple and straightforward resource begins to outline how to include young people’s views and feedback in the strategic planning process:
Rainier Valley Corps (RVC) – Stronger Investments in Leadership Programs will Diversify Environmental Justice Movement The RVC shares in their guide to how to create a leadership fellowship program that engages youth and young adult voices while simultaneously offering leadership training and pathways to higher level opportunities.
QMUNITY – Hearing from the Youth: QTBIPOC Youth Gathering – This article, including dynamic visuals describes how a youth gathering helped youth support workers best understand and include the QTBIPOC young people they were working with in their decision making.
When considering organizational leadership it is often easy to overlook fundraising and finance management even though they are principal determinants of what an organization feels it can or has to do. Therefore when applying an equity lens to one’s group it may be important include significant thought and discussion on fundraising practices and language, potential funders, funding goals and how decisions are made towards using an organization’s money and assets to build more collective and community wealth.
Association of Fundraising Professionals – Diversity Essays This collection of essays are written to encourage fundraisers to expand the vision of individual donors beyond “white wealth” and diversifying their fundraising to create a more diverse pool of revenue and support.
Community-Centric Fundraising – Resources on transforming fundraising and philanthropy, so that they are co-grounded in racial and economic justice.
Strengthening Diversity Through an Equitable and Inclusive Organizational Culture and Structure
An organization’s culture is key to creating and then maintaining an inclusive environment that results in more equitable experiences for the individuals who work at the organization and the communities they serve. An equitable and inclusive organizational culture creates an equitable and inclusive structure and then the culture helps to reinforce, maintain and adapt the structure: they reinforce one another in a cyclical fashion. Over time, an equitable and inclusive culture maintains the fertile ground for additional growth to occur, allowing for a constantly evolving organizational structure to better meet the needs of its community.
Organizational culture and structure can include many different aspects: language, team recruitment, interpersonal team dynamics and relationships, team support, work-life interactions, team development, vision, and much more. And especially of note, as organizations that support children and youth, organizational culture includes how youth voices are centered, welcomed and incorporated into structures.
This section is designed to help readers think through different questions like:
● Who are we as an organization? Who makes up our staff culture? Where are we at and how can we grow?
● How do we develop and maintain a rich, inclusive, supportive and welcoming staff experience and internal community that retains staff, provides
space for them to show up in their full selves and take care of themselves all while doing great work?
● How do we create a staff team structure that reinforces inclusion and equity?
● How do we develop staff and create clear pathways for growth and development, leadership and power sharing?
● How do we develop a vision for our organization that centers equity and justice, children and youth voices? How do we set goals to achieve this
vision in our work?
Within this topic, areas of interest are organized into categories and with corresponding resources below. But to start, here are some overarching resources that dive into the overarching aspects of organizational culture and structure:
● Video by Dennison Consulting: What is Organizational Culture?
● Video by HumberEDU: The Iceberg of Organizational Culture
● Education Outside-Education Outside’s Organizational Approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Shares concrete steps this organization took to
create an inward facing inclusive culture and how they modeled this for garden educators and created spaces for the garden educators to maintain the community. Includes a helpful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmark Rubric.
● The Lawrence Hall of Science and Youth Outside – Examining equitable and inclusive work environments in environmental education: Perspectives
from the field and implications for organizations. Summary of a survey of 51 environmental education (EE) organization leaders and 26 EE educators showing the difference in responses between the two groups. Shares a number of clear and helpful recommendations.
● Maggie Potapchuk, MP Associates – TOCA: Transforming Organizational Culture Assessment Tool. This tool looks at impacts of consistently
ignoring white dominance in organizational culture. It starts with helping the reader to evaluate their organization’s readiness to use the tool, then looks at alignment with racial justice and equity values, and then helps the reader to develop a roadmap (with benchmarks) for what a racially just organization might look like.
Before an organization can build out its structure, it’s important to identify where the organization is at, both in who makes up the organization (a cultural inventory) and how the organization is structured. Once an organization has done the important work of learning and unlearning, and has set up leadership properly to support and encourage this work, it may be time to dive into where to go next.
Education Outside – Reflecting on Organizational Culture : Deepening the Work. A training outline for how to have deep reflection on an organization’s social and psychological environment so that support for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work can be evaluated.
In looking at an organization’s vision and mission statements: Does it incorporate youth voices in their development? Does it include aspects of inclusion, equity and justice and allow for the organization’s work to be actively anti-oppressive? Once an organization identifies and further develops the parts of its vision, mission and even values that can strengthen its dedication to this work, next steps may include setting clear goals to support the team’s internal work and plans to communicate this focus/work externally.
NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center – Equity and Justice in Goal Setting A toolkit for NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center. This toolkit primarily provides structure for organizations who wish to develop equity and justice commitment statements.
A work environment that incorporates inclusivity, equity and justice is one that is able to attract, empower, retain and help grow a diverse staff with a variety of cultural competencies, skill sets, backgrounds, life experiences, and abilities. Below are some areas for where to focus on implementing an inclusive and equitable culture in the workplace.
1. Recruitment: Inclusive recruitment asks not just how does a person fit into an organization, but also how can a person add to the
culture? Identifying how one can fill in the holes of an organization’s cultural inventory and create a more inclusive and welcoming environment can be a good starting point.
ii. Education Outside – Hiring Considerations. List of concrete steps to conduct an inclusive hiring process with examples.
Includes information on Position Description, Online Application, Recruitment, Hiring, New Hire Placement, and Data Review.
2. Feedback: A culture and process for welcoming and integrating feedback is essential for creating an inclusive and equitable work
environment where all members of the team feel willing to contribute and then valued in their contributions. This can be reinforced by the culture and language surrounding feedback as well as regular ingrained processes to solicit and then incorporate feedback. Self awareness and interpersonal techniques are key in encouraging and working with feedback.
3. Culture of staff support and gratitude: When staff feel supported in their whole selves – both at work and outside of work, they can
feel more welcomed and able to contribute fully to an organization. Different human resources such as paid time off, personal time, mental health support, general health benefits, various accommodations for abilities and family lifestyles, etc. along with a culture of encouraged use provide this type of support. In addition, time and efforts to appreciate each individual’s contribution; to provide rest, relaxation, and reflection; and to create space and time to process current events may help each individual feel central to the organizational ecosystem and protected as such.
The structure of an organization, how staff members work with and interact with one another and how decisions are made are integral to an inclusive and equitable environment. An organization can experience a big impact and boost when it provides meaningful opportunities for mentorship, professional development, including leadership development, and clear/transparent pathways for growth. and how these could be improved and made as transparent as possible.
Rainier Valley Corps – A PAPER OF COLOR FOR GREEN PATHWAYS: Stronger Investments in Leadership Programs will Diversify Environmental Justice Movement. This report makes the case that stronger investments in leadership programs will diversify the Environmental Justice movement and provides specific ways to do this along with models.
Collaborating with Community through Partnerships, Program Development and Assessment
One key to the success of any School Garden Support Organization is community buy-in. This means with every new project it is ideal to have community members involved at every stage of the process, from before the ground is broken to many seasons after a garden has been established. Strategies for initiating collaborative community partnerships include: showing sensitivity to the community and its residents by waiting until an invitation is given or permission is granted before providing services, compensating community members for sharing time and expertise, and cultivating shared ownership of the space. The collaborative community partnership is strengthened by ongoing reciprocal relationships that foster safe and inclusive spaces that acknowledge the diversity of needs represented. Ongoing assessment of program impact can be accessible and community-centered.
This section is a collection of resources and tools shared to help an organization ask questions like:
● How do we establish and sustain trust amongst key community partners?
● How do we ensure accurate representation of community voices?
● How do we design the space to best fit the needs of the community we are serving?
● How do we ensure the longevity and reciprocity of the relationships we are cultivating with our community partners?
● How do we strengthen shared ownership of garden spaces?
● How do we foster safe spaces where young folks feel empowered to shape the space with their creativity?
● How do we authentically represent community members’ voices when communicating impact in evaluation and assessment?
Knowledge gained through lived experience holds immeasurable value when it comes to solving the problems many garden-based organizations try to tackle. Community members have a more nuanced understanding of the problems they face and hold the key to the most viable solutions.
Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas – Identifying Community Assets and Resources: This helpful resource answers questions like “what is a community asset?” “why should community assets be identified?” “who, when, and how should community assets be identified?”
Chattanooga Design Studio – Akiima Price: “Meaningful Engagement in Stressed Populations”: This resource is a recording of a talk Price gave in April 2020 sharing innovative programming strategies featuring nature as a powerful medium to connect stressed youth, adults, and families in meaningful, positive experiences that affect the way they feel about themselves, their communities, and their parks.
Dreaming Out Loud – The Farm at Kelly Miller Community Design Day: The Community Design Day hosted by Dreaming Out Loud and several other community-based organizations in DC, is a shining example of a promising practice of how to engage community members before breaking ground to ensure the space becomes a community asset.
Liberating Structures: “Liberating Structures (LS) are novel and practical how-to methods to help you include and unleash everyone in shaping next steps. LS distribute control so that participants can shape direction themselves as the action unfolds.”
Mudbone grown: This is not a resource per se, but an organization that is exemplifying community partnership and apprenticeships for black farmers.
The Praxis Project – Learnings from the Front Lines: “Resources from Learnings from the Front Lines are designed to spread the insight of community advocates, organizers and partners to other fields, such as public health, philanthropy, and allied professions.” This resource list contains links to reports from the Praxis Project’s Learning Circle Brief Series and webinars on related topics.
A New Model for Community Engagement, Problem Solving, and Creating Inclusive and Equitable Outcomes , Creative Reaction Lab – Outlines a process for equity-centered community design, with a downloadable field guide and tips for integrating Equity-Centered Community Design into Classrooms and Youth Programs, Personal Practice, and Institutions and Organizations.
Placeholder for Worker Justice in the Food System webinar- “Collectively, we will examine the true cost of our food and how we, as educators and consumers, can be more effective allies to food workers while engaging with our students in the classroom or on the farm”
Although youth are definitely a part of the larger community that we strive to honor in collaborative partnerships, we are taking special care to uplift youth voices because they are too often discounted as “naive” or “uninformed” non-experts, despite the fact that they have been leading the intersectional environmentalist movement. By uplifting youth voices, organizations gain a greater diversity of perspectives to inform partnerships and programs.
Good Food Purchasing Program – Good Food Rising Youth Engagement Toolkit: “This toolkit was inspired by the many coalitions around the US working on promoting good food in their regions, and the youth who have inspired the coalitions to fight for good food purchasing.” The toolkit contains activities and lessons that are meant to educate and engage youth on issues involving our food system and their various connections to environmental sustainability, health and nutrition, local economies, and more.
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future – FoodSpan: A “free, downloadable curriculum that provides high school students with a deep understanding of critical food system issues, empowers them to make healthy and responsible food choices, and encourages them to become advocates for food system change.”
Real Food Media: Real Food Media is “a women co-led organization that uses a wide range of communications tools—including videos, radio, podcasts, social media, public speaking, writing, campaign strategy, and storytelling—for food justice and food sovereignty.” Explore the Real Food Media website for engaging educational and teaching tools made with youth in mind.
[PLACEHOLDER: Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative Manual (City Blossoms Curriculum in the works…likely to be published June 2021!)]
350.org – Resources on Youth Organizing: tools and activities for leading interactive workshops, seminars, and retreats
United Community Centers – Research and publications on youth internships, food dignity, and more
Community Collaboration requires both initial outreach to ensure that the community voice is being heard as well as ongoing communication. Effective partnership in program development stems from community members being given the opportunity to express desires and concerns. Successful development, implementation, and assessment stem from authentic input from community partners.
Education Outside – Getting to Know Yourself and Your Community:Identity Mapping, Fitting-In vs. Belonging, Asset Mapping: In these trainings, educators will explore their positionality, begin to think about creating an inclusive outdoor classroom, and map the assets in their school community.
Food Dignity – Collaborative Pathway Models: “A collaborative pathway model (CPM) is a visual type of program logic model that illustrates, in detail, the theory of change underlying a program. Each model [included] was developed in close collaboration with the community organization leaders and staff, using the values-driven CPM process which is designed to surface, protect, and convey the expertise held by community organizers and practitioners.”
Community Schools Model: “A Community School is a welcoming and inclusive place that builds on the assets of the community to help serve the identified needs of the students, families and community through well integrated and coordinated, strategic partnerships.” Communities in Schools provides an overview, and here are two examples from Madison, Wisconsin, both with long-standing outdoor classrooms and school gardens.
Providing assessment tools that are both accessible and culturally relevant can provide more honest input from the community and ensures the lived experience of the community is reflected in the program impact assessment. Community centered assessment tools will work towards acknowledging bias. Effective assessment tools ask, “how are you doing” as opposed to “how are we doing,” centering questions on the person rather than the organization.
Racial Equity Tools, Evaluate Section An excellent extensive list of resources for all stages of evaluation.
Culturally Responsive Evaluation presentation and resources by Mele Wheaton, Research Scholar at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Food Dignity – Paths to Food Dignity: A YouTube playlist showcasing a collection of first-person digital stories by members of Food Dignity.
Dialogs in Action Project Impact Provides cohort based organizational evaluation and assessment training that works to “push the sector into new evaluation possibilities, and use evaluation to shape program innovations and renovations”.
Capacity Building Partnerships Provide organizations support with DEIJ trainings. Including assessment and evaluation. “We focus on building, integrating and implementing diversity, equity, inclusion in all aspects of organization practice; and driving change through organizational and operational systems”.
Creating Learning Environments that Liberate Youth, and Professional Development
Learning environments that celebrate young people are paramount to building equity in garden education. Celebration is a perspective that includes culturally-responsive and sustaining approaches—it also includes joyfully honoring difference and diversity. Diversity and difference is strength. Gardens teach us this. A garden is not strong if it grows only one kind of plant. A single pest or disease could devastate the whole garden. Soil becomes depleted. If a garden grows a great diversity of plants, plants are able to feed one another and feed the soil. This diversity attracts a multiplicity of helpful insects and animals. The garden’s vibrant ecology minimizes pests and disease.
In this same way, education as celebration starts from abundance. This can be strengthened by recognizing students, regardless of age, as co-conspirators in learning and fun, and by securing space for children and young people to bring their own wisdom, inherited from the wisdom of their communities. Knowledge like this is not scarce, it’s prosperous like the Earth and the sunlight. To encourage environments that celebrate such knowledge, educators can attend to these four areas: teacher training, pedagogies, curricula, and spaces (socio-emotional-physical communities). These four topics overlap and inform one another deeply—and when combined, these four elements uplift students, garden education becomes liberation work, inviting young people into their own power.
It’s very difficult to help children and youth build their power if educators and staff aren’t working on their own implicit bias and working to develop understandings of systemic oppression. Teachers can pay special attention to how systems of oppression show up in education and classrooms. Focus Areas 1, 2, and 3 above provide more resources for this particular work.
Professional Development, Learning for Justice.
Equity and Inclusion Best Practices, Kentucky Association for Environmental Education.
Evaluation Toolkit, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Getting to Know Yourself and Your Community, Education Outside.
Out Teach, Out Teach.
Teaching styles can inspire wonder and act as foundations for youth empowerment. As teachers, how do we embody and model the sorts of power dynamics that we want to see in the larger world, dynamics that encourage flourishing for all young people? How can storytelling and games be major strategies for learning communities to manifest justice?
Abolitionist Teaching Network, see “Guide”, “Podcast”, and “Resources for Agitators”.
Access and Equity in Grades K–8, FOSS. Teaching Guide, specifically see pages F10 and F11 for an overview of approaches.
Curricula that work to liberate students are a keystone of any equitable garden. At a baseline level, liberatory curricula highlight and celebrate the contributions of disenfranchised populations. This includes centering indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge as a primary foundation of environmentalism. Land acknowledgements are often included in lessons and students invited into building their own acknowledgements. It’s important to balance teaching ongoing injustice and dispossession with resilience and survivorship. The best curricula also respond to the needs of different learners and physical abilities.
Critical Questions for Equitable and Inclusive Curriculum, Youth Outside. Guiding questions for reflecting on, or designing, just curricula.
Teaching with Equity in Mind, Kentucky Association for Environmental Education. Resource pool for how to approach lessons.
Learning Gardens for All: Diversity and Inclusion, Marna Hauk and Dilafruz Williams. Research paper that includes design pillars and a sample curriculum.
25 Mini Films for Exploring Race Bias and Identity with Students, The New York Times.
Diversity and Equality for Kids, Diversity and Equality for Kids, kids learning tube
Teen Food Literacy Curriculum, Urban Institute.
Black and African-Ancestored Learners:
Educational & Youth Programs, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.
Early Childhood Education:
100 Children’s Books about Diversity and Inclusion Part of practicing how to be a good human is to learn about all types of people and their experiences.
25 Amazing Inclusion Books for Kids, One of the great things about books is watching kids connect the dots between what they read and what they experience.
Our First Harvest: Digital Download, City Blossoms.
Sowing the Seeds of Wonder, Life Lab.
Early Childhood Ed Materials, KidsGardening.
Edible School Garden Program: Implementation Guide, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. Starting and maintaining garden programs with Indigenous American communities.
Fertile Ground, Seeds of Native Health. Collected resources (partners, research, and reports) for food and nutrition work in Native communities.
Traditional Foods. Native Diabetes Wellness Program, Center for Disease Control.
Hawai’i School Garden Curriculum Map, Hawaiʻi Island School Garden Network, The Kohala Center.
Resource pool: First Nations Development Institute
Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students, Learning for Justice. Teaching resources and webinars.
LGBTQ Programs, Curriculum and Support, Seattle Public Schools. Toolkit, docs, videos, etc, focus on K-5, staff, and families.
Best Practices for Schools, Gender Diversity.
Students and Gender Identity Toolkit, USC Rossier.
Queer Nature, Nature-Connection and Place-Based Skills for LGBTQIA+, Two-Spirit, and Non-Binary People and Allies
Emergent, Multilingual Learners:
Supporting Emerging Multilingual Learners, Life Lab.
Also see the SGSO Network’s Finding and Sequencing High Quality Lessons, which includes resources for multilingual learners. Also see FoodSpan Curriculum, and Food for the SOL, listed above under topic 4, subsection 2 “Uplifting Youth Voices”.
Physical spaces of liberation are some of the most immediately visible manifestations of our justice work. Students are capable and proud to design their own garden and outdoor learning spaces; let’s let them do it! Liberation gardens are accessible to learners of diverse physical abilities. These spaces feel welcoming for neurodivergent and sensory-sensitive youth (this often means including quiet nooks). Signs reflect languages spoken at home, and include ASL and Braille options for students who need them. Diverse cultural backgrounds can be represented through traditional planting styles and growing culturally-relevant foods. Topic 4, subsection 1 above provides extra resources on this area.
SGSO Forum Comment on Youth Design, Pam Lecourse.
Building Culturally Responsive and Inclusive Outdoor Classrooms, Education Outside. Document talking about teaching, curricula and spaces. OVERVIEW NOT IN DEPTH.
Liberated Roots, Learning for Justice – “School and community gardens can be emancipatory spaces—if they’re built around culturally responsive practices. Get to know three gardening activists who have learned to ask the right questions—and listen to the answers.”
Safe Roots (available in multiple languages), Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo and Urban Roots Garden Center.
How to Design Your Own Accessible Garden, Sarah Fay and Jennifer Eckert Bernau.
How to Create a Mutual Aid Pod, National Farm to School Network. Document.
Hosting a Garden Design Charette, Cornell University Cooperative Extension. How to include youth in design work.
Designing a Garden for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Kid’s Gardening.
Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens, Daniel Winderbottom and Amy Wagenfield.
● Resource pool: Farm-Based Education Network Resources
● Resource pool: Learning for Justice Learning Plans
● Resource pool: Learning for Justice Classroom Resources
● Resource pool: Zinn Education Project Materials
● Learning Gardens for All: Diversity and Inclusion, Marna Hauk et al. (Prescott College). Description.
○ “By their nature, gardens embody diversity. This article
explores the cultural significance and value of school gardens for diverse communities in restoring and reclaiming their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and resilience through stories, myths, and practical examples”
● Creating a multicultural school garden program, Kaitlin Koch
Wojciak, Michigan State Garden Extension. Description.
○ School gardens can be most impactful for students of all
cultures when you intentionally plan an inclusive, multicultural garden program. This is especially important in diverse school districts and beneficial regardless of the area demographics.
○ “If you think of culture as a garden. There are three main
components necessary to reap the benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
● Diversity and Equality for Kids, Kids Learning Tube. Video.
● Facing History – Facing History’s resources address racism,
antisemitism, and prejudice at pivotal moments in history
● Teaching with Equity in Mind, A sustainable world where
environmental and social responsibility drive individual and institutional choices, Kentucky Association for Environmental Education
Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. Starting and maintaining garden programs with Indigenous American communities.
Classrooms, One Schoolhouse. Youtube video.
● The Cedar Box Teaching Toolkit: Northwest Portland Area Indian
● Native Seeds Search. Resource for buying seeds native to the
southwest United States.
urgency of intersectionality, Ted Talk
● Bioneers is an innovative nonprofit organization that highlights
breakthrough solutions for restoring people and planet. Our dynamic programs and initiatives focus on game-changing initiatives related to Restorative Food Systems, Biomimicry, Rights of Nature, Indigeneity, Women’s Leadership and Youth Leadership. Advancing gender equity and alliance building – https://bioneers.org/youth-leadership-and-education-program/
● Sierra Nevada Alliance Webinar recording featuring Dr Carolyn
Finney – Dr. Finney explores the complexities and contradictions of our past, the realities of our present and the possibilities of our future as it relates to green space, race, and the power to shape the places we live in our own image. By engaging in “green” conversations with black people from around the country, she considers the power of resistance and resilience in the emergence of creative responses to environmental and social challenges in our cities and beyond. Link to the webinar recording: here.
● The Greenlining Leadership Academy trains and empowers the
next generation of multi-ethnic leaders to create positive social change. We offer three transformative programs designed for young leaders seeking to reach their full potential.
recording – a virtual discussion with Leah Penniman, Winona LaDuke, and Jeremy Lent. The event was hosted by Zenobia Jeffries Warfield, YES! executive editor, and Andrew Schwartz, co-founder and executive vice president of the Institute for Ecological Civilization.
● African American farm & garden leaders, past & present:
○ link references Wangari Maathai, Karen Washington, Ron
Finley, and Will Allen
○ Fannie Lou Hamer & the Freedom Farm Collective
The resources on this page have been shared by SGSO Network members, and collectively curated by participants in the 2021 National SGSO Leadership Institute, listed below. We invite you to contribute your own resources related to equity & inclusion in garden education to share with the SGSO Network.
2021 SGSO Leadership Institute Working Group C contributors:
Eva Barinas – Grow Pittsburgh; Rebecca Lemos – RLO Works, (past) founder of City Blossoms; Diane Richmond – Master Gardener of San Diego; Fitzhugh Shaw – Oasis Farm and Fishery; Jessie Coffey – Nebraska Department of Education; Judit Camacho – Life Lab; Laurel Smith – Garden to Table; Lauren Newman – City Blossoms; Rebecca Slosberg – Rogue Valley Farm to School; Tristana Pirkl – SGSO Network; Whitney Cohen – Life Lab;