Intergeneration Gardening

School Gardens = Natural Playgrounds

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Teachers at the K-State Center for Child Development use the produce from the garden to prepare simple dishes with their students. Here’s a recipe for Caprese Salad that is easy to make in a classroom.


  • Thick slices of a Ripe Tomato (enough for each child to have at least one)
  • An equal number of slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Twice as many leaves of fresh basil
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Make sure everyone washes their hands and the work surface prior to touching the food.

Starting at the edge of a serving platter, place a slice of tomato, a basil leaf, a slice of mozzarella and another basil leaf. Continue in that pattern, forming a spiral from the outside in, until all the ingredients have been arranged. The salad should end in the center of the platter. Drizzle the salad with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper and salt.

Upon arriving at the Center for Child Development (CCD) on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, visitors quickly recognize the uniqueness of the facility.

Intergenerational Gardening

Benefits and Resources
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Horticultural Therapy

One way to bring generations together around plants is through horticultural therapy with elders, which you can incorporate as a service-learning unit. Usually these projects involve students engaging with seniors in nursing home and adult day care settings. We recommend two excellent guidebooks that walk you through each aspect of planning and implementation of such a project.

Generations Gardening Together: Sourcebook for Intergenerational Therapeutic Horticulture, by Jean M. Larson and Mary Hockenberry Meyer. This guide has chapters devoted to working with both elders and children, designing an accessible garden, and building a program. The heart of the book is a chapter outlining a six-week intergenerational sensory garden activity plan.

Using Plants to Bridge the Generations, from the Cornell University Extension 4-H program details the whole process from recruiting participants to thorough gardening how-to advice. It includes more than a dozen hands-on activities, a thorough planning timeline, and evaluation tools, too.

Photo © Molly Brown. Used by permission

Living History: Interviewing Elder Gardeners


By engaging with and interviewing elder gardeners in the community and presenting their findings to the class using various media, students will hone communication, observation, and organization skills. They’ll discover the gardening techniques and remembrances of previous generations and other cultures. Ideally, they’ll get a sense that history happens every day, right where they live, and that each one of us is a part of it.


Students will:

Parents Primer

Many other writings on kids' gardening start with what to grow and how to design and build a kids' garden, prepare soil, and plant, but this primer is not just about creating one garden for your kids. It's about taking advantage of "gardening moments" with your kids every week in your own backyard ... and front yard and in the garage and at the windowsill and in the basement ...

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Copyright © 1999-2012 National Gardening Association     | &      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 04/25/2014
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