Growing Kids in the Garden

two children lookiing at sunflowerA way for young people to learn and grow

The 4-H School Garden Program helps young people develop valuable life skills and subject matter knowledge through experiential learning.  Our goal is to help schools create outdoor, living laboratories that serve as a seamless extension of their classroom. 

A school garden is not a small endeavor.  They require energy, commitment and enthusiasm.  We know that busy teachers and administrators need help.  4-H provides training, curriculum, “ready-to-use” educational kits, planning assistance and additional resources for public, charter and private schools in Palm Beach County.  

Research shows that hands-on, experiential learning allows young people to become the center of an educational opportunity while mastering important knowledge and skills.  Numerous techniques exist for adapting most educational standards such as math and literature to the garden environment.  

Gardens also help youth connect to the natural world and resources that sustain us.  As children have less and less opportunity to play in and experience the outdoors, school gardens become a critical link to nature.  Through school gardens youth learn to care for wildlife, plants, soil and water. 

What can I teach in the garden?
  • Science Inquiry
  • Living Organisms
  • Properties of Matter
  • Earth Structures
  • Interdependence
  • Reading and Writing
  • Mathematics
  • History and Culture
  • Art
  • Sustainability

two girls planting herbs 


Create a garden that thrives!

Getting started
Long before the first seed is planted you will want to grow support for your garden.  Engage administration, teachers, volunteers, parents and youth.  From the very beginning strive to develop a diverse garden committee who will design, develop and sustain the garden for years to come. 

The resources are there
The committee has a great plan.  Now it is time to harvest the resources you will need to develop your garden. 

  • Parents can help.  Start by sending home a garden needs list with children.

  • Contact local government and businesses and share your ideas.  Many organizations will be eager to help create opportunities for children.

  • Post a sign in front of the school or article in the newspaper asking the community to help.

  • Work with your County Extension Office and 4-H program to apply for grants and to explore other funding solutions. 

Kids and the garden
Children should be involved in all aspects of the garden from design to ongoing maintenance.  Form an in-school or afterschool 4-H garden or green club who will take ownership of the garden and promote it to other children.  Offer regular garden parties to inspire school pride.  Garden clubs are a critical aspect of having a successful school garden.  Clubs help young people develop valuable leadership skills, work together as a team and promote self-efficacy. 

A+ in the garden
Gardens serve as a living classroom where teachers may instruct most Common Core or Sunshine Standards.  There are many options.  Some teachers adopt plots in the garden and engage the entire class while others allow parent volunteers or classroom aides to rotate small groups through the garden for more individualized lessons or tutoring. 

Vegetable Gardens
Vegetable gardening helps young people develop an appreciation of agriculture, food systems and nutrition.  Many children do not know where their food comes from or how it is produced. By growing their own vegetables youth will become more independent and discover how they can apply these skills at home or in other aspects of their lives.  Consider creating themed gardens such as a salsa or pizza garden.   

Wildlife Gardens
Help children discover the importance of environmental stewardship and habitat through wildlife gardening.  School gardens can offer valuable habitat for urban wildlife while teaching youth about local ecosystems.  Consider developing a butterfly garden filled with native plants or install bird and bat houses around the school grounds.  The use of native plants reduces maintenance and water needs.

Therapeutic Gardens
Gardens may serve as a place of healing for youth with temporary or permanent disabilities.  Fully accessible gardens that utilize raised beds, planters or hanging gardens will allow all children to participate.  For example, sensory gardens that incorporate vibrant colors, textures and smells provide a peaceful, unique experience that enhances the psychological, emotional and physical development of children.    

If you are interested in school gardens, please contact:

Palm Beach County 4-H
559 N. Military Trail
West Palm Beach FL 33415

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