A Guide to Planning Your Own Garden Curriculum

Meredith HillSarah Ohana

Developed and written by teachers Meredith Hill and Sarah Ohana

Organic Gardening’s mission is to “live lightly from the ground up.” This is especially relevant as the possible threats of climate change and the detriments of unhealthy eating, on both the planet and its people, are at the forefront of current media coverage. Many across the world would agree that the challenges of our planet’s ecological situation demand that we find ways to “live lightly” and take action toward a more environmentally minded future.

When J.I. Rodale began Organic Farming and Gardening magazine (now Organic Gardening) in 1942, he did so with an awareness that heightened use of chemicals in agriculture was already a problem. Today, America’s mistreatment of our soil has reached far deeper than J.I. Rodale could have anticipated back then. Damaged soil has led to an increased reliance on chemicals in food production, the grocery-store shelves are packed with ingredients that come more from laboratories than gardens, and diet-related illnesses are on the rise. “Living lightly from the ground up”—and restoring the food system that will support generations to come—is of critical importance.

Yet building a sustainable agricultural future cannot be simply through the soil alone. We need to start with the people “from the ground up,” too, and build a community of future leaders who are educated about what it takes to maintain a sustainable environment.

In this curriculum guide, “Dig, Plant, Grow!” we offer some ideas to plant the seeds of garden-based education. Whether used by parents for adventures in at-home gardening or by teachers building a classroom garden, we hope that these ideas will inspire you to bring an understanding of gardening and food systems to the young people who can in turn build a sustainable future “from the ground up.”

In each section below are ideas for how to integrate these topics into your curriculum, including:

  • An introduction section featuring background information on the topic
  • An “In the Classroom” section, including a featured lesson plan and ideas for bringing the topic to life in your own curriculum plans
  • A section of hands-on garden learning ideas to make the garden your classroom
  • A “Classroom Library List” of youth resources for further reading on related topics

While these lessons offer ways to integrate gardening into your teaching, don’t forget: The best way to teach gardening is to garden! By engaging students in planning, planting, and harvesting, you’ll be enriching them with amazing lessons to help them grow!