This blog is one in a series that will focus on National Farm to School Network and Hawthorne Gardening Company’s work to bring more indoor gardens to more schools.
At the National Farm to School Network, we know that school gardens grow more than just plants. Gardens at schools create positive learning environments, increase students’ willingness to try new fruits and vegetables, and serve as a valuable tool for engaging young learners in a number of academic subjects. It’s why school gardens are one of the three core elements of the farm to school movement: when students engage in hands-on learning through gardening, the benefits are limitless.
With a goal of connecting more students across the country to gardening opportunities, National Farm to School Network is excited to be part of the Gro More Good initiative with Hawthorne Gardening Company and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation. Gro More Good is a commitment to connect 10 million children to the benefits of garden and greenspaces over the next five years. Through this partnership, we’ll be working together to expand curriculum-aligned hydroponic gardening to underserved communities across the country. Our goal? To open up the world of indoor gardening to more students who might otherwise not have the opportunity, and in doing so, to spark a love of science learning and a passion for growing and healthy eating that will last a lifetime.
Over the next year, we’ll be working hand-in-hand with 15 schools in three cities to integrate hydroponic gardens into classrooms and science curricula. To ensure a strong garden-to-classroom connection, we’ll be partnering with KidsGardening to develop a new curriculum guide to support the use of hydroponic gardens as a tool for standards-based science learning. Hawthorne Gardening Company, National Farm to School Network and Kids Gardening will be providing technical assistance and facilitating peer learning across the participating schools along the way to encourage collaborative learning and long-term success. We’ll also be gathering stories and photos from the schools to share how the gardens (and students!) are growing.
The highlights, successes and opportunities that sprout up from this year-long program are ones we look forward to sharing with the wider farm to school movement. Just as there’s no one-size-fits all garden glove, there’s no one garden plan that fits every school. Alongside options like raised beds and container gardens, bringing the garden indoors with hydroponics can be a great option for schools. In climates with a short summer growing season, indoor gardening can give all students the opportunity to be part of the process of growing food from seed to harvest. Indoor gardens can also help ensure garden activities are accessible to students of all abilities. And, having a garden stationed directly in the classroom can help students quickly make tangible curriculum connections. We look forward to hearing from our partner schools about what other opportunities they discover with hydroponic gardens!
In the coming months, we’ll be selecting our 15 partner schools who will implement the hydroponic gardens and curriculum guides in their science classrooms during the 2018–2019 school year. Stay tuned this fall to learn more about our cohort of partner schools and what they’ll be growing in their hydroponic gardens!
In the meantime, find resources and ideas for bringing gardening activities into your school by visiting the National Farm to School Network’s online resource library. And, keep up to date on our Gro More Good project and all things school gardens by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter.
Let’s get growing!
National Farm to School Network is an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing, school gardens, and food and agriculture education into school systems and early care and education settings. Learn more about our work at farmtoschool.org.
Hawthorne Gardening Co. is a house of brands that provide an incredible array of tools and services for a multitude of gardening needs and yet all share one mission: to help people live happier, healthier lives through gardening. Hawthorne is dedicated to empowering more people to garden no matter where and how they choose to grow. Learn more about Gro More Good at GroMoreGood.org.