Plant it Forward

Youth gardens offer many opportunities for gardeners to give back to their community. Drawing from the concept of “Pay It Forward,” by which a person who has received a gift repays it by giving a gift to another instead of the original donor, encourage your young gardeners this year to “Plant It Forward.” Here are a few ideas to consider:

Plant a Thankful Gardener

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Download this month's lesson plans:

Pressed Flower Thank-you Notes

Tree ID

Thanking volunteers and sponsors is an important activity for all youth garden programs. Although appreciation for contributions should be shown year round, Thanksgiving, a holiday rooted in the celebration of harvest, is a great time to present your loyal supporters with a special gift to acknowledge their generous donations of time, talents and funds.

Youth Garden Spotlight: Twelve Stones CDC Community Garden

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Having had a mild winter, the Twelve Stones Community Garden kicked-off their first youth garden in February 2012. Students jumped at the chance to get raised beds started, filling them with soil and making plant selections.

Youth Garden Spotlight: Myers Elementery School

2011 Healthy Sprouts Award Winner
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Apply for the Subaru Healthy Sprouts Award today

Since 2006, Students at Myers Elementary School have been involved in every aspect of the garden. Students engage in lessons on historical plantings, nutritional information, cooking classes, endangered species and so much more.

Planting the Playground

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Looking for ways to incorporate play into your garden program? Check out the following activity ideas:

Garden Games

Creating a Letterbox

Building a Maze

Transform your school’s playground into a dynamic space that engages students’ imaginations and encourages exploration of nature—add a garden!

All too often, playgrounds are limited to large, hard structures made of metal and plastic placed in a bed of mulch. Without a doubt, kids love their playgrounds and need the physical activity they promote (just think how many kids consider recess their favorite time of the day), but by adding a touch of living green, they have the potential to offer even more benefits.

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.

Holding Onto the Garden — Environmental Sustainability

Tips for increasing the environmental sustainability of your site's garden.

“We make decisions in the garden based on what is good for the earth, not solely what is good for our short-term needs.” (Hurricane High School, Hurricane, WV)

Outdoor Living in the School Garden

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Learning in the Outdoors

Here are two lessons created by our staff at NGA to get your students learning in the garden.

Image taken from: Adirondack ArtImage taken from: Adirondack ArtA footprint map is a visual of animal footprints used to identify animals. Guides showing local animal tracks are a great way to help your students identify garden visitors. Tiny identification guides can be downloaded online and tucked into garden journals. Posters are also available for display in the classroom. Do a search of animal footprint maps to locate a guide for your area.

Visitors to the NGA headquarters at Vermont Garden Park sitting comfortably outdoorsMany times, as gardeners, we think of the garden as “ours”. The garden exists to fulfill our purposes whether to provide food for our family, education for our students, or a beautiful setting for family and friends to enjoy.

One Stop for Your Garden-Based Education: A Garden in Every (Home)School

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Keep your Students Learning over the Winter Break!

Here are some fun activities you can send home with your students over the winter break to keep them engaged. You may even consider encouraging your students to get their parent's involved and complete these activities by offering extra credit when they return from winter break.

K-5th grade activity: How to Create a Moss Garden »

5th-12th grade activity: Serving Nutrition at Home »

Successful school gardening with kids in any situation requires a set of great resources. Having resources that enable you to seamlessly use the garden to enhance the core curricular areas makes your job, as the teacher, that much easier.

Disguised Learning

According to Karen Hickmott, at Myers Action Institute, disguised learning means “the students have so much fun while learning they do not realize they are strengthening their academic skills.” Through the after-school and summer garden program offered to students in kindergarten through fifth grade, this 2010 grant winning program ha

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Kids Gardening and the National Gardening Association actively work with schools and communities across the country to provide educational resources and build gardens to promote health, wellness, and sustainability.


Copyright © 1999-2014 National Gardening Association     | &      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 07/31/2014
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