At KidsGardening, we believe that gardening helps children grow mentally, emotionally and physically, and thus children both need and deserve to have access to gardens in their daily lives. School gardens provide students with opportunities to connect with nature and better understand the origins of their food supply in a very personal way to foster positive environmental and nutritional attitudes and behaviors.  Additionally, school gardens are an important hands-on tool for promoting inquiry-based learning across the curriculum. A growing body of research-based literature substantiates the benefits of participation in youth gardening programs including:

  • Significantly increase science achievement scores[1],[2]
  • Improve environmental attitudes[3]
  • Increase students’ interest in eating fruits and vegetables[4]; improve students’ attitude toward vegetables and toward fruit and vegetable snacks[5]
  • Increase self-esteem, help students develop a sense of ownership and responsibility, help foster family relationships, and increase parental involvement[6]
  • Improve life skills, including working with groups and self-understanding[7]

Recognizing the challenge of obtaining funds for school gardens, KidsGardening has awarded over 11,000 grants since 1982 providing supplies and financial assistance worth over 4.4 million dollars to garden programs that served approximately 1.8 million youth gardeners. To extend our reach and provide additional comprehensive assistance to educators, The Adopt a School Garden Program (ASG) was created with the goal of helping educators build viable, self-sustaining gardens and providing information about gardening.

Adopt A School Garden links schools and youth gardens to supporting funds, materials, and technical assistance through corporate and individual donors.  The main objectives of the program are to:

  • Solicit and direct donations to school gardens
  • Provide expert assistance to educators during creation and maintenance of their school garden
  • Ensure program sustainability.

If you are interested in exploring how you can bring these benefits to youth in your community, contact Emily Shipman.


Program Details

Schools register their interest for adoption with KidsGardening and are matched with sponsors as funding becomes available. Upon adoption, KidsGardening contacts the school and assesses their situation and needs. Working collaboratively with an educator from the adopted school, a KidsGardening education specialist creates an individualized action plan for the school’s gardening program which includes recommendations on: how to connect the garden with their standards-based curricula, locate community resources, obtain professional development, and find needed supplies. With guidance from KidsGardening, 80% of the funds go directly to the schools for the purchase of garden materials and educational supplies.  The remaining 20% of the donation helps support KidsGardening’s individualized assistance to each school. Although the specific support varies at each school, examples include:

  • Suggest design and materials appropriate for the climate, available space, budget, and prospective use, indoors or out.
  • Provide guidance to school team leaders on selecting kid-oriented designs, choosing complementary educational resources, and setting garden goals.
  • Propose engaging, standards-based garden projects and educational activities that incorporate math, literacy, health and nutrition, literature, communication, responsibility, and self-esteem.
  • Provide program materials for educational programs around desired themes or use, i.e. pollinator garden, food garden, indoor seed-starting, container garden, or sensory garden.
  • Devise plans to incorporate wellness policies and take full advantage of limited space through plant-based activities, theme garden designs, and lesson plans.
  • Provide financial management and program oversight to ensure implementation of each project.
  • Follow-up and track the life and progress of each school garden.

In addition to the planning and implementation support to build a solid foundation, during the adoption period KidsGardening maintains regular contact with the school and provides ongoing guidance to provide information on gardening and helps the program overcome obstacles, identify goals, cultivate a local support network, and build sustainability.

Contact Emily Shipman to learn more about sponsoring a youth garden in your community.

[1] Klemmer, C.D., T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek. 2005. Growing minds: The effect of a school gardening program on the science achievement of elementary students. HortTechnology 15(3):448-452.

[2] Smith, L.L., and C.E. Motsenbocker. 2005. Impact of hands-on science through school gardening in Louisiana public elementary schools. HortTechnology 15(3):439-443.

[3] Skelly, S.M., and J.M. Zajicek. 1998. The effect of an interdisciplinary garden program on the environmental attitudes of elementary school students. HortTechnology 8(4):579-583.

[4] Pothukuchi, K. 2004. Hortaliza: A Youth “Nutrition Garden” in Southwest Detroit. Children, Youth and Environments 14(2):124-155.

[5] Lineberger, S.E., and J.M. Zajicek. 1999. School gardens: Can a hands-on teaching tool affect students’ attitudes and behaviors regarding fruits and vegetables? HortTechnology 10(3):593-597.

[6] Alexander, J., and D. Hendren. 1998. Bexar County Master Gardener Classroom Garden Research Project: Final Report. San Antonio, Texas.

[7] Robinson, C.W. and J.M. Zajicek. 2005. Growing minds: the effects of a one-year school garden program on six constructs of life skills of elementary school children. HortTechnology 15(3):453-457.