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A Year of School Garden Support

At the end of this bustling school year, our Grow Local team reflects on the Austin Area school gardens we’ve supported through our programming. SFC’s Grow Local program offers School Garden Leadership and Classroom Trainings, consultations and site visits, free resources through our Spread the Harvest program, Introduction to Food Gardening Classes, and School Garden Start-up and Activity Guides. Here’s a quick glance at our impact during the 2016-17 school year:

  • 4 School Garden Trainings (2 School Garden Leadership Trainings, 1 School Garden Classroom Training, and 1 Community Gardens at Schools Training)
  • 107 training participants
  • 47 schools represented at trainings
  • 144 schools enrolled in Spread the Harvest
  • 38 consultations and site visits
  • 3 Schools hosted an Introduction to Food Gardening Class

School Garden Spotlight:

We want to shine the spotlight on a few exemplary school gardens. Below are updates from garden leaders who attended our trainings and classes this past year. Because of their leadership, commitment, and care, these schools gardens have flourished!

Rodriguez Elementary

“The Rodriguez School Garden is coming to the end of its inaugural year with a bounty of tomatoes and loads of excitement for the coming year. Our garden has been a wonderful addition to our campus as both a teaching tool and a source for salads for teachers and herbs for our students’ lunches. We have held two successful weekend garden days that both drew dozens of staff, students, and parents. On Earth Day, our entire 5th grade class planted eight fruit trees that are doing beautifully at the entrance to our school. We’re looking forward to having a 1000 gallon rain barrel installed this summer and additional seating in our garden courtyard.

I was fortunate enough to be welcomed as a last minute addition to the [SFC's] School Garden Leadership Training in September. As a non-gardener who had never led a campus team, much less directed a physical campus installation, I was admittedly freaked out. Over the course of the two-night training; however, my fears were assuaged and my confidence awoken. The Sustainable Food Center and its staff have been a source of continual support, counsel, and affable wisdom. Our garden has a long way to go and we’re thrilled to take it on with our students and our partners.” – Matthew Armstrong


Menchaca Elementary

“Right now there are six teachers involved with the garden club, three at first grade, one at 2nd grade, and two on the Special Ed. team. We had three raised bed gardens installed back in the fall with SFC for a [Introduction to Food Gardening] class… We have added another very large raised bed garden since our training and now have three more teachers in our garden club. We switched the fall crops out into spring crops about a month ago and they are doing great!”

The [SFC Community Gardens at Schools Training] we went to is what inspired us to expand and add the new bed. We did it on a Saturday and it was a lot of hard work but so satisfying to see it all come together and get more teachers and students involved. We also used what we learned in the training to network and get free plants and wood donated from local businesses...We are hoping to expand more next year – so excited to see how it all plays out.” – Mindy Palmer

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Mathews Elementary

“At Mathews Elementary, students pre-kindergarten – sixth grade are gardening with the support of SFC. We are expanding our outdoor learning spaces to include vegetable, herb, and pollinator gardens, adding a pond and empowering students to learn more about recycling. Our goal is to make gardening accessible to all students. We advocate for healthy clean eating by harvesting our own produce. Growing gardens enables students to reconnect with nature, study plants and animals, and explore habitats.” – Diana McMillan


Stories from Schools in Spread the Harvest:

The Grow Local team loves getting feedback from schools that have picked up free resources through our Spread the Harvest program. These stories let us know how the seeds, plants, and compost we provide have strengthened school gardens.

AISD’s Elementary Disciplinary Alternative Education Program

“We just planted 20 seedlings that we got from the giveaway day in the beginning of March. We got everything planted and are already seeing strawberries grow and we have tomato blossoms! We are a disciplinary campus for students that have been removed from their community school for various reasons and seeing how these students love nurturing the garden has been really exciting. Every student is excited to go outside and garden and learn more about plants and gardening in general. In our time of computers, ipads, iphones etc., I feel so great that these students get to be excited about being outside and connected with each other and the natural realm. THANK YOU!”

Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary

“Last school year, only one teacher used the garden at our school. This year, we have two groups of students that tend to the garden once a week each on a regular basis...It is our hope and dream that more students will enjoy the garden and its harvest then have ever before. In the years to come, we plan on expanding the garden and making it a community garden for the area which our school serves. Thank you for contributing to these goals!”

Webb Middle School

“The highlight of last semester was having a kid say ‘Miss, you got me addicted to vegetables!’ while we were making a collard greens omelet.”

If you're interested in starting or reviving a school garden, we invite you to attend our fall School Garden Leadership Training in mid-September. Check our SFC Classes & Events page in August to register. We look forward to another busy year of supporting schools gardens!