Outdoor Garden Classroom Program
What Our Outdoor Garden Classroom Includes:
Work with all Elementary, Middle, and High Schools
Green Our Planet offers its Outdoor Garden Classroom Program to all elementary, middle, and high schools, Pre-K through 12th grades, in the CCSD whether they are Title 1 or non-Title 1, charter or other kinds of schools.
The gardens we help fund and build are raised garden beds made from bricks and come complete with soil, seeds, and automatic drip irrigation and are approved by the CCSD. You can see many of our gardens here. To see one under construction, click here
We have found that in the Mohave Desert, school gardens fare best when maintained professionally, with weekly visits by a farmer, which also includes a weekly workshop in garden topics for classes. After the first year, the school has the option of continuing with the farmer or maintaining the garden on their own.
Pre-K Through 5th Grade Garden Stem Lessons
Green Our Planet in collaboration with Three Square and 12 CCSD Teachers and 3 farmers from Garden Farms created the first Pre-K through 5th grade STEAM garden curriculum aligned to Next Generation Science standards and Nevada State Standards. Released in the fall of 2014, it is now in its second, revised edition, and allows teachers to teach STEAM subjects directly in the gardens instead of in a classroom. You can see the curriculum here.
Special Needs Curriculum
In collaboration with Desert Oasis High School, Green Our Planet helped find funding for the creation of a vocational garden curriculum for special need students at Middle and High Schools.
Green Our Planet Coordinators And Formation Of Garden Teams
According to national research, the most sustainable school garden programs are those that are run by garden teams ideally composed of a teacher from each grade level. Green Our Planet helps form these teams, then assigns a Green Our Planet Coordinator to attend Garden Team meetings each month in order to help schools achieve their vision for the their garden program. The Green Our Planet coordinators are all college- educated and bring a wide variety of skills to the schools, including architectural design, hydroponics, graphic arts, horticulture, and health sciences.
Green Our Planet helped pioneer the first student-run farmers’ markets in Las Vegas with Kathleen Coveney a teacher at John S Park ES in the fall of 2013. Since then, more than 60 CCSD schools have conducted farmers’ markets, many of them run by elementary schools. Green Our Planet in conjunction with CCSD teachers also created the “Farm-preneur Program,” which teaches 5th graders (via their STEAM curriculum) how to create a business out of their vegetable gardens. Follow this link to see a 5th grade farmers market.
Within the last two years, Green Our Planet has created the largest chef-to-school program in the United States, taking advantage of the fact that Las Vegas has an abundance of restaurants. More than 60 professional chefs donate their time in this program by giving demonstrations at schools in how to cook healthy and nutritious meals from produce grown in a school garden. Follow this link to see chef demos in action.
Garden / Environmental Clubs
At the school’s request, Green Our Planet will assist the school in all aspects of forming a garden club (K-12 grades).
Hydroponics / Salad Bar Systems
Green Our Planet and the nonprofit organization, Los Vaqueros, partnered together in 2016 to launch the first, city-wide Hydroponics/Salad Bar Program in the CCSD. Los Vaqueros creates large, portable, free-standing hydroponics units and installs them; Green Our Planet then teaches schools how to maintain them and how to use the produce to create supplemental salad bars for school cafeterias, thus creating the first “farm-to- school-cafeteria” vegetable production systems in the CCSD. The hydroponics systems are offered free to schools that already work with Green Our Planet.
Monarch Butterfly Way Stations
In partnership with the Southern Nevada Milkweed Project, Green Our Planet launched a Monarch Butterfly/Pollinator garden program in the CCSD in 2016. Because Monarch Butterfly populations have declined precipitously in the last 20 years across the U.S., scientists have discovered that by planting their native food—local milkweed—that their numbers increase. Green Our Planet is thus offering schools “pollinator gardens,” that are planted with native milkweed and other plants that attract beneficial pollinators.
Garden Sustainability Program
It is important that a garden program not only have a suitable curriculum, but also that it be financially sustainable. Green Our Planet therefore works with the school to devise a system where via Farmers Markets, Harvest Parties, and/or grants to make sure their program becomes sustainable. Watch some video of a harvest party.
Expansion of Gardens Into Outdoor Garden Classrooms
After the garden beds are put in, Green Our Planet assists schools with expanding their initial garden into an Outdoor Garden Classroom, complete with student seating, white board, etc. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for teachers to conduct classes outside. Follow these links to take a tour of an Outdoor Garden Classroom or to see one under construction.
Assistance In Connecting Title 1 Schools To Long-term Corporate Sponsors
A Title 1 school is a school where 40% or more of the students receive free or reduced price lunches, an indicator of the neighborhood’s economic level. To help create a level playing field for these schools, Green Our Planet assists Title 1 schools in finding a long term corporate sponsor to help with the garden program.
Extracting The Maximum Educational Benefit From Your Garden
The overall goal of the Outdoor Garden Classroom Program is to help your school create its own vision for your garden program, then to help you achieve that vision, so as to extract the maximum benefit possible from your Outdoor Garden Classroom.