The K-12 Education and the Environment Initiative Curriculum includes lessons about how we depend upon the earth’s resources for our food. School gardens provide an excellent opportunity for teachers to extend these lessons outside of the classroom to reinforce concepts about nutrient cycles, food production, decomposition, water conservation and more. This webpage includes a listing of EEI Curriculum units that address agriculture and resources for school gardens related to sustainable practices, such as composting, integrated pest management, and water conservation.
How to Start a School Garden
A wealth of information on how to start a school garden, linking school gardens to California Education Standards, funding, and so much more, is available from the California School Garden Network.
Agriculture in the EEI Curriculum
Throughout the K-12 EEI Curriculum students learn about the importance of agriculture in California. Starting in kindergarten, students learn that fruits and vegetables come from farms and gardens, not just the grocery store. Second graders read a story about a young girl’s search for strawberries as the context for learning about producers and consumers. Compost is featured in fourth grade EEI Curriculum lessons as students learn about decomposition. In high school, students learn about genetic engineering and the pros and cons of this controversial technology.
This list of EEI Curriculum units shows the lessons that relate to agriculture.
Compost and Mulch in the Garden
Both new and established gardens benefit from the use of compost and mulch. Many schools purchase compost when they initially establish their garden, then they start making their own compost. You can use grass clippings, yard trimmings, rotten vegetables, and in some cases even food scraps from the cafeteria and/or students’ lunches. While some schools choose to make compost piles in the garden, others compost with worm boxes right in the classroom!
- Compost and its benefits: Learn how your school garden can benefit from the use of compost.
- How to make your own compost pile. Guidelines for creating a compost pile at your school, just like building a “backyard” compost pile at home.
- Worm composting. Learn how worms can “eat your garbage,” even in a classroom!
- CalRecycle Compost Publications. A variety of publications relating to compost and mulch.
Recycled-Content Garden Supplies
- Recycled-Content Garden Supplies
You can find manufacturers of recycled-content products such as compost bins, garden benches, lumber for raised beds, and seedling starter pots in CalRecycle’s Recycled-Content Products Manufacturers (RCPM) directory.
Integrated Pest Management
Schools can use integrated pest management strategies to help manage school garden pests.
School gardens can incorporate various water conservation methods. The University of California Cooperative Extension outlines various garden irrigation techniques in Soil and Water Management for Vegetable GardensPDF download.
Still Have Questions?
Contact Bendan Blue, the Office of Education and the Environment’s School Garden Coordinator.