Growing Food Curriculum

Engage students in science learning through something they know and love – FOOD!

We’re happy to share that the amazing Growing Food curriculum is now available in Spanish and English as a free digital download as part of the Seeds of Success Toolkit.

Growing Food is the first module of the LiFE (Linking Food in the Environment) curriculum written by a talented team of science and nutrition educators at the Teachers College Columbia University with funding from the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is designed to help students embark on an exciting adventure of learning science through the study of our food production system. By investigating the question, "How does nature provide us with food?" students learn about the cycling of matter in nature, flow of energy, and food systems. They explore and analyze their personal food choices through scientific reasoning, and apply what they've learned through discussions and debates to personal decisions related to food systems, health and the natural environment.

The cover of the book Growing Food shows two children looking at and touching a vine-y pea plant.

The journey to create the LiFE curriculum series began in 1996 as nutrition professor Isobel Contento and science education professor Angela Calabrese Barton set out to develop a program that would hook students with the wonders of science in a meaningful way while providing essential knowledge about our food system. The result was the creation of three curriculum books, Growing Food (grades 4-6), Farm to Table & Beyond (grades 5-6), and Choice, Control, & Change (grades 6-8). The LiFE series was created with the vision of promoting scientific habits of mind through thoughtful, inquiry-based activities that integrate the study of food, food systems, and environmental and personal health.

The LiFE curriculum series was pilot tested in schools with the assistance of implementation partners throughout the country including the New York City Board of Education (New York), University of St. Louis (Missouri), Lawrence Hall of Science (California), Center for Ecoliteracy (California), University of Texas (Texas) and The Food Trust (Pennsylvania). In addition to the new free digital copy of Growing Food, there are also a limited number of all three LiFE books in print available for purchase through Gardener’s Supply Company. All book sales benefit KidsGardening’s work to ensure all kids have the opportunity to learn through the garden.

We want to thank Dr. Pam Koch who is the primary author of the LiFE series. Pam is the Mary Swartz Rose Associate Professor of Nutrition and Education and serves as Faculty Director for the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy in the Program in Nutrition at Teachers College, Columbia University. Pam helped in making Growing Food available and accessible through the KidsGardening website. Additional thanks go out to the USDA for financial support for the translation of Growing Food through a 2021 USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant.