water jug near garden

Author: Toni Dauwalter

SO much learning can happen in the school garden!  I love helping teachers connect standards to learning in the garden.  Often this is many students’ first experience with agriculture!  Teachers often are learning as they go too; it is an awesome thing for students to see that even their teacher gets to learn!  There are MAITC Regional Specialists all around the state that would be happy to connect you to quality lessons you can use in your school gardens.  We are by no means garden experts – we also are always learning!

School Garden Food Safety 

I love how Anne Sawyer from MN Extension states in her article, Keep fruit & veggies in School Gardens clean and safe to eat!:   

“I like to remind people that the school garden is really an extension of the kitchen – except that it’s outside.”

I have to admit that in my own backyard garden, I sometimes forget this concept.  We always remember to wash our hands in the kitchen before preparing food, but it gets forgotten when we are out in the garden.  MN Extension has a GREAT resource for solving that problem!  Here is a link to their simple plans for building your own handwashing station at your schoolyard garden.  It is simple and inexpensive (less than $20!)!  I talked to teacher, Anna Edlund at Bluff Creek Elementary about theirs.  They had parent volunteers build it and say it works great!

Here is a video showing how it’s done!

I went to check out the hand washing station at a local elementary school!  It works GREAT!

Success Stories

If you haven’t seen the videos from Jeffers Foundation highlighting successful school gardens from around the state of MN, now is your chance to check them out: https://jeffersfoundation.org/programs/a-garden-for-every-school/

Also – the MN Schoolyard Garden Coalition has GREAT information and an awesome new website: https://sites.google.com/view/school-based-garden-f2s/home

AND…Don’t forget that the Virtual Teacher Tours this summer has one session ALL about school gardens.  I visited East Union Elementary school garden and shared the news:


Our curriculum matrix is FULL of great lessons that can be used in the garden.  We also have an online School Garden Guide that is helpful for teachers too!

See our awesome Regional Specialist share about our ‘Three Sisters’ lesson kit for teachers (our specialists might still have some left to give to teachers – contact yours if you want one!)

Check out the SUPER cool book ‘Anywhere Farm’ from a MN Author!  Kirsten Saylor, who will be with us on our Virtual Teacher Tour on June 30th reads to us:

Here are some of my favorite lessons:

K-2 –  

Growing Plants in Science and Literature:  More than an Empty Pot

Plants Tops and Bottoms

Farming in a Glove

Dig ‘Em Up


Desktop Greenhouses  

Get Popping, grow your own popcorn and use this lesson in your classroom!  Can you say “Popcorn Party!”  Get Popping! Kit

Power Potato — I’ve had such success with school gardens planting potatoes!!

6-8 – 

Hungry Pests

How Much is Dirt Worth 

Food Miles

Food Safety Sleuths- Food Safety Specialist

9-12 –  

The Science of a GMOGM Leaf test – agclassroom store $7

Fruits and Vegetables: The Right Pick for Vitamins and Minerals

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