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School and Community Gardens Learning Module

University of Illinois Extension has been considered Illinois’ go-to resource on gardening for over 100 years and we want to help you bring the garden into the schoolyard with our online School and Community Gardens Self-Paced Learning Modules.

A school garden can be many things, from a pollinator garden, to a sensory garden, or a bulb garden. Our online learning modules focus on vegetable gardening while we take you on a journey from planning your garden, preparing your soil, planting crops, beginning to harvest. Your project will culminate in students tasting the fruits of their labor firsthand after experiencing all the steps involved in growing their own produce.

Increased demand for garden support led us to develop a self-paced online school garden course. “We offer expertise in nutrition, gardening, and food safety to help you learn the ‘ins and outs’ of teaching youth to grow their food and benefit your community.”

Our course starts with the logistics of building a garden, including getting buy-in from school administrators, maintenance staff, and parents. We have spent years developing this course to bring you resources for grants, recipes to try with your students, considerations of materials as you build a budget, and much more.

The school and community gardens self-paced course moves from planning to implementation as you learn how to build and maintain a vegetable garden. No two gardens are the same. Maybe your garden comprises containers, raised beds, or planted right in the ground. We show you how to setup your garden for success, regardless of the site or materials you choose.

No garden is without its need for maintenance. Our instruction covers how to water the garden, control weeds, and scout for common Illinois pests.  We also focus on safety, which is why we will show you how to harvest your vegetables and follow good food safety practices.

By taking this course, you will join a community of teachers across Illinois working to build their own school gardens. s“Our online forums allow you to ask and share with your fellow teachers and ask our horticulture experts questions.

Registrants can access the online modules at any time once they join the course, including access to an online question and answer forum curated by Extension Educators and fellow course participants.

School gardens lend themselves to support the Next Generation Science Standards serving as living laboratories. Students can explore environmental factors first-hand and document phenomenon that take place in the garden. Food is also an important component. It builds communities, strengthens families, and builds a healthy body. Teaching your students to grow good food gives them skills they can use the rest of their life and builds within them a sense of accomplishment. There is nothing better than tasting the fruits of your labor and playing an active role in growing your own food.

Experiencing vegetable gardening firsthand is a life-changing experience that helps build communities around healthy food, especially during the summer months. Our course caters to both experienced gardeners and beginners by providing the information you need to start with success. We have seen schools continue on year after year feeding the community or a local food pantry after using the course materials.

It doesn’t matter your skill level in gardening. What matters is getting started and learning right along with your students. With this course you will learn the basics to build a thriving school garden program, whether big or small.  We will also connect you with various other resources to learn even more about vegetable gardening and build upon what you learn in this course.

Join University of Illinois Extension as we help to teach our youngest generation the skill of gardening so they can take part in something humans have been doing for thousands of years... growing their own food. We’ll see you in the garden!