School Garden Support & Training
SFC's Grow Local helps teachers, parents, and community members in the Austin area start, use, and sustain successful school gardens by offering trainings, resources, educational materials, and consultation. School gardens can serve as an outdoor classroom for multiple subjects and connect students to the food system.
School gardens offer children (and adults!) opportunities to grow food and discover how delicious and fun eating fresh fruits and vegetables can be. Research shows that in addition to increasing children's openness to, preference for, and intake of healthy foods, school garden participation improves academic performance, social behavior, and appreciation for the environment.
Trainings and Resources
- Garden Leadership Training. Offered twice a year in the fall and spring, this two-part training equips school staff, parents, and community members to plan, start, and sustain a school or community garden. CE credit available through AISD for teachers. (see SFC’s Classes page)
- School Garden Classroom Training. Offered in late fall, this peer-facilitated, hands-on training provides guidance on how to use the school garden for classroom learning. Local school garden leaders share lessons and best practices. CE credit available through AISD for teachers. (see SFC’s Classes page)
- SFC’s Grow Local School Garden Start-up Guide and School Garden Activity Guide (available for purchase) provide guidance on how to establish and maintain a school garden and also provide gardening, food systems, and cooking activities for youth.
- Download our School Garden Planning Worksheet (PDF) at the bottom of this page to help you and your team create a plan for your garden.
- Consultation: We offer consultation on organizing, planning, building, and using school gardens. Please call or email us using the contact information below.
- Free Resources: Enroll your school garden in the Spread the Harvest program and receive free seeds, transplants, compost, and fertilizer.
- Starting a Garden: Get approval from your campus and district administration first. If you are an AISD school interested in starting or expanding a garden, submit an AISD Application for Schoolyard Improvement Projects. AISD Facilities staff will review and approve the application.
- What To Do With Your Harvest: Consider sampling, selling, or donating the harvest. If you are an AISD school, consult AISD's Harvest Guide for guidelines. Download and submit AISD's Garden to Cafe Program Approval Form to serve the school garden harvest in the cafeteria, and download the Harvest Receipt Form to track your harvest.
- Network: Join the Central Texas School Garden Network listserv, an online forum, to receive and share information about grants, resources, and classes.
- Funding: Download the Funding Opportunities PDF on our Grow Local page and apply for a grant. We can review drafts of your application.
- Free Classes: Do you work at a school serving a predominately low-income community? We offer Community Introduction to Food Gardening classes in the fall and spring at various sites in the Austin metropolitan area. Contact us by phone or email for more information.
- Volunteers: Need school garden volunteers? Let us know, and we will share your volunteer needs and requests with our community of SFC volunteers.
Bianca Bidiuc Peterson, Grow Local Program Manager