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How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers

By Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle

A valuable tool for creating rich learning experiences and helping children reconnect to the natural world.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

In this groundbreaking resource, two school garden pioneers offer parents, teachers, and school administrators everything they need to know to build school gardens and to develop the programs that support them.

Today both schools and parents have a unique opportunity — and an increasing responsibility — to cultivate an awareness of our finite resources, to reinforce values of environmental stewardship, to help students understand concepts of nutrition and health, and to connect children to the natural world. What better way to do this than by engaging young people, their families, and teachers in the wondrous outdoor classroom that is their very own school garden?

It's all here: developing the concept, planning, fund-raising, organizing, designing the space, preparing the site, working with parents and schools, teaching in the garden, planting, harvesting, and even cooking, with kid-friendly recipes and year-round activities. Packed with strategies, to-do lists, sample letters, detailed lesson plans, and tricks of the trade from decades of experience developing school garden programs for grades K–8, this hands-on approach will make school garden projects accessible, inexpensive, and sustainable.

Reclaiming a piece of neglected play yard and transforming it into an ecologically rich school garden is among the most beneficial activities that parents, teachers, and children can undertake together. This book provides all the tools that the school community needs to build a productive and engaging school garden that will continue to inspire and nurture students and families for years to come.

Media reviews

"This book will be a well-thumbed resource in many school and public libraries. ... Strongly recommended."

Library Journal

"This book's hands-on approach will make school garden projects accessible, inexpensive, and sustainable."

—Carol A. Friesen, Journal of Education Nutrition and Behavior

"Their hands-on approach makes school garden projects accessible, inexpensive and sustainable."

Marin Independent Journal

"A must-have for any gardening library."

Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Newsletter

"A treasure trove of good advice and innovative ideas, from the usual 'what to grow' and 'how to garden' to using the garden as a teaching tool and creative starting point. ... Fabulous resource for schools but also families who want to get more out of their patch of land."

—Kathreen Ricketson, WhipUp.net

"Easy-to-read, informative, and visually pleasing — any parent or teacher considering a school garden will find a wealth of information in this book."

—Shawn Akard, American Gardener

"Packed with a wealth of inviting color photographs."

—Susan Smith-Durisek, Lexington Herald-Leader

"This is my bible on starting a school garden."

—Annie Spiegelman, Huffington Post

"This terrific guide is filled with detailed, practical guidelines for organizing and running a school garden."

SciTech Book News

"Offers all the instruction necessary to plan for and maintain a school garden."


"A practical, schematic guide to getting a school garden off the ground, with well-written advice for getting buy-in from a school's administration, how to fundraise effectively, and even how to organize volunteers on the first day of garden-breaking."


About the authors

Arden Bucklin-Sporer

Arden Bucklin-Sporer is the executive director of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, an advocacy organization for school gardens and outdoor classrooms. She is the director of educational gardens for the San Francisco Unified School District, and a founding partner of Bay Tree Design, a landscape architecture firm.

Read more about Arden Bucklin-Sporer

Rachel Kathleen Pringle

Rachel Kathleen Pringle is programs manager for the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, as well as the urban school garden liaison for Occidental Arts and Ecology Center's school garden teacher training program in Sonoma County. She was previously a garden educator and coordinator of a public school garden in San Francisco.

Read more about Rachel Kathleen Pringle

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