School Gardening Newsletter Fall 2018

Soil My Undies Schoolyard Challenge: Take the Challenge Next Spring!

Take the Soil My Undies Schoolyard Challenge as shown in the video below, photograph the results, and send it to hogan.239@osu.edu before next May. Please include the name of the school garden, and make sure that any children in the photograph have a photo release at your school. All photographs sent will be posted in our spring newsletter and on our 4-H Project Green Teacher Facebook page. If you do not want to use underwear, a child's all-cotton shirt should be equally effective. Let the challenge begin!

Are you actively involved in a school garden in Franklin County Ohio? If so, Take our brief survey

If you or an educator you know is actively engaged in school gardening, please go to this website and add the location of the garden, and the person in charge of managing it with pertinent contact information. Your information will be shared with other educators with a similar interest unless you designate that it remain private. Networking is the way to insure that school gardens are a solid component of the educational landscape in Ohio!


Calling all 4-H Project Green Teacher graduates! We need your garden pictures

Are you a former 4-H Project Green Teacher? If so, we would like to see your school garden photographs! Please note that any children in your photographs must have an active photo release on file at your school or afterschool program. The photograph below is a raised-bed garden in the Upper Arlington school district. Elizabeth Blank, one of our newest 4-H Project Green Teacher graduates, spearheaded the garden at her school! The raised beds were cleverly built in the shape of a U and A, and will be planted with cool-weather plants soon. If you would like to send a photograph for a future edition of this newsletter, please direct it to hogan.239@osu.edu.
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Believe it or not, school gardening can be used to teach all curriculum areas!

When people think of education and school gardens, science naturally comes to mind. In fact, the garden can be used as a context for learning in all curriculum areas. The link below will take you to a fact sheet that provides a brief overview.


Teacher Feature: Jim Reding, Granville Exempted Village School District

Name: Jim Reding

School: Granville High School

Educational Position: AP Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Sustainable Agriculture (Summer), Science Department Chair, School Garden and Land Lab Manager.

How long have you been engaged in school gardening? 11 years

How did you get started? Twelve years ago, I was wrapping up a lesson on sustainable agriculture in my Environmental Studies class when a student asked, “…if this is such a good idea, why aren’t we doing it ourselves?” The bell rang and I had the weekend to ponder the questions. On Monday I pitched the idea of a raised bed and carrots in the courtyard, but the students had much, much bigger plans. I listened, completely in awe, as they laid out their vision over the next two days. I was then faced with the reality of telling these inspired students that while their plan was amazing, we did not have the funds to make it happen. Again, the students took charge of the situation, wrote a grant and soon their vision started to take shape. That was 12 years ago and those same students still stop by the garden to make sure their legacy continues to grow!

What was the most memorable moment you had teaching your students in the garden? There have been many, and most not of my making; but the first one that jumps to mind is the day I realized the students “owned” the garden. I ran out to check on things during lunch and found five young ladies sitting at a picnic table among the raised beds, enjoying a freshly harvested salad. They looked a little sheepish at first and asked if what they were doing was okay. It was not only okay; it was brilliant and the next logical step in a thriving school garden. By the following year, the student’s produce was a regular staple on the school lunch line.

Why is school gardening an important educational tool for teachers? When I talk to other teachers (or administrators and parents) about school gardens, I passionately state that there is no subject that can’t be taught in the soil. However, the real value of this educational tool is not in the content or curriculum, it’s in the life lessons that will serve students well beyond the tests and college applications. School gardens teach patience, optimism and hope. You prepare the soil, plant the seeds, tend the patch and hope for the best… but there are no guaranties. School gardens teach grit. You work hard, do everything right and yet things can still go wrong. So you straighten your hat, drop back to your knees and dig in again; grit! This is learning for life! This is what students need.

What advice do you have for those wanting to start a school garden? Let them dream big (but start small). Involve the students from the beginning. Let them “own it” and then get out of their way!

How are you planning for long term sustainability of the garden once you retire or take on another position? Our school garden has taken on a life of its own. It is a fixture in the school community. Students come to my class with the intent of working in the garden and/or on related projects and many of the projects involve other teachers and school staff. If I walked away tomorrow, someone could step into my role and I think the community would make sure that was the case. It has become a part of who we are as a district; as much as an outstanding sports program or award winning music department. It’s part of our school’s tradition and pride.

I should also add that my eight-year-old son is waiting in the wings. He has grown up in the garden and Land Lab and he could lead an hour tour in either of them. He is talking about teaching and taking over when Dad retires and he just may be my greatest legacy!

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2019 School Garden Events Are in the Planning Stages

Be sure to watch our website for 2019 events that will focus on educational gardening! Here are some tentative dates:

June 11, 12, 13: 4-H Project Green Teacher School Garden Educational Series

Tentatively scheduled for October 25, 2019: Sixth School Garden Conference

(Please note: The Urban Agriculture series scheduled for September 2018 has been postponed)

What is 4-H Project Green Teacher?

4-H Project Green Teacher is an educational garden program for teachers, afterschool personnel and others facilitated by Ohio State University Extension personnel in Franklin County, Ohio. Extension offices are located in all the 88 Ohio counties, bringing the university to the people of Ohio in the areas of agriculture, natural resources, community development, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H youth development. 4-H is the largest youth organization in the United States and is housed at land grant universities nationwide. 4-H personnel facilitate educational experiences that include project-based learning, preparing youth for leadership roles. More information about Franklin County OSU Extension can be found at franklin.osu.edu.

Here are the links to previous newsletters

4-H Project Green Teacher, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

Also Check out this Facebook Page

You can also check out Facebook Page School Gardens of Ohio at:


Note: Images in this publication are from Pixabay.com or Susan Hogan

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu. For an accessible format of publication, visit cfaes.osu.edu/accessibility.