The School Garden Support Program works with educators across DC to build strong, sustainable school garden programs. Our program empowers teachers to connect students to garden-based education through field trips in Washington Youth Garden, virtual classroom support, and professional development opportunities for DC educators.
Our vision is for school gardens and healthy, local food to be a fundamental part of each school, led by the school community, and integrated into a school’s culture and learning environment.
Our Science Program Reaching OUT (SPROUT) field trips take place in Washington Youth Garden, our one-acre demonstration garden on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum.
Field trips are 90 minutes long and explore a specific garden theme in an exciting and interactive way. Teachers can dig in further before and after trips with optional lesson plans to prepare students for their visit to WYG and reinforce what they learned during their trip.
We use age-appropriate outdoor classroom strategies to keep students engaged and learning throughout the whole experience. SPROUT field trips are tied to academic standards, and explore three themes:
- Garden Basics (Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade): Uses movement, sensory exploration, and play to teach students about the plant life cycle and the functions of their six basic parts: seed, root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit.
- Pollination (1st – 3rd Grades): Explains the process of pollination, how plants attract pollinators, and the role of pollination in our everyday lives. Students will can also interact with our bees at their hive and taste their honey.
- Nutrition (3rd – 5th Grades): Teaches students about food groups, the value of whole foods & variety, and how gardens can help us create healthy, nutritious meals.
Field trips to the Washington Youth Garden typically cost around $300-400, plus the cost of transportation.
- 0-20 students: $200 ($100 for Title 1 schools)
- 21-42 students: $400 ($200 for Title 1 schools)
We are currently only accepting groups of 42 students or less per trip.
“Many students commented on how scared they were of insects and worms before the trip, and now they see the value of having them in the garden. The “ick” factor of the unknown is lessened or gone.”
VIRTUAL CLASSROOM SUPPORT
These kits include an activity guide that allows students to practice the scientific method, run their own experiments, and create nutritious meals from what they grow. Request kits for your classroom.
Setting Up Your Kit
Watering Your Plants
How the Kits are Made
Virtual Farm Field Trips
Join farms and gardens across DC to get inspired, learn something new, and get ideas to explore your own garden or neighborhood!
Washington Youth Garden — Garden Tour
Farmer Jake introduces all the spaces in the Washington Youth Garden demonstration garden.
Washington Youth Garden — Starting Seeds
Farmer Emilia gives a tour of our greenhouse at the U.S. National Arboretum.
Washington Youth Garden — Sensory Garden
Follow Farmer Emilia around the WYG sensory garden and explore your senses in our garden and at your home.
Washington Youth Garden — Plant Part Salad
Ms. Allie identifies the 6 essential parts of a plant and uses them to make a salad.
City Blossoms — Super Plants
Ms. Lauren introduces you to the Marion Street Neighborhood Garden while you explore how the parts of a plant help the plant grow.
City Blossoms — Plant ID
Ms. Lauren teachers young gardeners how to identify local families of plants and play a game of “Does it grow here?”
City Blossoms — Herb ID
Ms. Kendra explains how to smell and safely pick garden herbs, before introducing favorite garden herbs.
City Blossoms — Ecosystem Exploration
Explore Marion St. Garden’s ecosystem with Ms. Lauren! Learn about decomposers, producers, and consumers.
Common Good City Farm — Farm Tour
Emily shares about Common Good City Farm and introduces you to the space.
Common Good City Farm — Pollination
Learn about pollination, and what the role of different bees are in the beehive.
Common Good City Farm — Farm Tools
Farmer Bodhi explains commonly used farm tools and how we use them to get our work done.
Common Good City Farm — Orchard Tour
Walk through the orchard and learn about the persimmon, fig, peach, cherry, apple, pear and paw paw trees that grow at Common Good.
Common Good City Farm — Compost
Nate gives a tour of a compost bin system.
Online garden science and outdoor learning resources for all ages from FONA and other organizations, as well as garden resources to help you start or improve your garden.
KINDERGARTEN – 2ND GRADE
POPCORN & SEED SORTING
Use the seed sorting chart to sort through any seeds you have in your house (like that 7 bean soup mix). Then taste test seeds by making homemade popcorn.
COOKING WORKSHOP ACTIVITY GUIDE
Check out a couple of recipes and activities from our Cooking Workshop Curriculum, including veggie stir fry and quick pickles.
FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
FoodPrints activities that build nutrition knowledge, extend science and math education, and help families cook and eat healthy recipes at home.
SLOW FOOD LIVE
A variety of sessions live and recorded to watch and learn at home, including Food & Cooking, Gardening & Animals, Health & Wellness, and Change-Making.
YMCA DC FOOD VIRTUAL KITCHEN
Geared toward adults, watch short videos to learn chef skills and delicious recipes.
FOODCORPS REMOTE LEARNING LESSONS
35 hands-on lessons to do with kids 5-11 years old.
BACK POCKET LEARNING
Easy to do activities that every garden educator or parent should have in their “Back Pocket”. Curated by lifelab.org.
10 go-to gardening activities with kids.
CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN
Simple radish experiments to explore at home and learn about experimentation.
Compiled list of nature-based activities and healthy cooking, adapted for at home use.
THE ECOLOGY SCHOOL
Nature Nuggets: short snippets to build nature connection near home.
Great activities to follow the migration of animal species that pass through your neighborhood.
Great outdoor art, math and exploration activities. Updated in March and April with regular highlights from their curriculum.
OXBOW FARM & CONSERVATION CENTER
We especially love the build a worm bin at home and the nature journaling prompts activity guide!
Seasonal outdoor activities for all ages.
HOW TO PLANT
WHEN TO PLANT
WHAT TO PLANT
Summer Institute for Garden-based Teaching (SIGbT)
The Summer Institute for Garden-based Teaching is a five-day long professional development course. This training inspires and connects teachers and school staff to more fully integrate their school garden into their daily educational activities.
Qualifying schools must have:
- An existing school garden
- Submit proof of administrative support
- Send 2-3 teachers to ensure the development of a school garden team.
The course includes in-person activities at Washington Youth Garden and the National Arboretum’s auditorium, as well as virtual workshops led by FONA staff, partner organizations, and program alumni.
What is Your Why: School Gardens with Purpose
This webinar will provide tools and processes to think through what you want to achieve with your teaching garden, and how that can inform what your garden looks like. You will see examples from three school gardens: Turner Elementary School, DC Bilingual PCS, and KIPP PCS-Webb Campus. You will also learn about the research and evidence that grounds school gardens in best practices.
Designing Your Garden Team
This webinar will provide information on designing your school garden and building out your team. You will learn about the key features of school gardens, and see examples from different schools. We’ll also dive into connecting with school garden champions, both within your school staff, families, and the broader community.
This webinar provides garden skills for educators to feel confident teaching in the school garden. This is not a master gardener discussion. Instead, this webinar focuses on tips and tricks specific to school garden spaces.
Outdoor Group Management
This webinar will take garden design and put it into action, including how to bring a group of students out into your garden space for maximum learning and fun.
Teaching in the Garden
This webinar session will focus on how teachers can incorporate fun, engaging, standards-based lessons while teaching in the school garden. Learn about how you can incorporate food and garden-based lessons in your classroom, both virtually, and in person.
We anticipate the Summer Institute for Garden-based Teaching to happen the week of July 11th on the grounds of the US National Arboretum. Registration for this professional development will go live in April.
Educator Coaching Program (ECP)
The Educator Coaching Program supports schools by building the connection between health and learning through interdisciplinary garden-based education. Our vision is for school gardens and healthy, local food to be a fundamental part of each school, led by the school community, and integrated into their school’s culture and learning environment.
Educators who have participated in the Summer Institute for Garden-based Teaching are eligible to apply with their school garden team to participate in the Educator Coaching Program.
Each school garden team must have:
- 2-4 people committed to serving as the core of your school’s Garden Team
- Cross-section of the school community (e.g. two teachers, one non-teaching staff member, and one administrator)
- Regular meetings throughout the academic year to identify and execute key goals for garden-based education specific to your school and community
- Garden education & coordination support, as needed, through school specific garden goals
Here are a few sample garden goals we can help garden teams achieve:
- Garden Basics: Develop garden maintenance plans, establish garden agreements and expectations, learn general “how-to”.
- Food Distributions: Best practices for organizing and facilitating food distributions to feed your community.
- Scheduling & Logistics: Organize volunteer work days and reservation calendars, create outreach materials, and develop evaluation systems.
- Garden-Based Teaching: Increase hands-on, garden-based activities through co-teaching, materials, or curriculum development.
- Planting Plans: Schedule of what to plant and when so that your garden stays productive year-round.
- Partnerships: Connect the Garden Team to WYG partner organizations and garden resources in the area.
May – July: Applications open. Schools should fill out the application to be a part of the upcoming school year’s ECP cohort or continue to stay in the ECP. Applicants should have at least two staff members who have attended the Summer Intensive.
August – September: School garden teams are notified of acceptance into ECP. FONA staff meet with each school garden team to set goals for the year, discuss what areas they want further training in, and conduct a site visit of schools new to the program.
September – May: At the beginning of the school year, all school garden teams in the ECP cohort meet each other to build community. They continue meeting every other month during the duration of the program. Schools host garden workdays to engage their communities and integrate their garden into the overarching school culture. Co-teaching sessions, Grow@Home kits, and SPROUT field trips are also available for teachers. FONA hosts a seasonal maintenance morning at Washington Youth Garden to provide garden teams with supplies, seedlings/seeds, and garden training.
June: End of year celebration with the ECP cohort.