KidsGardening and Kiwanis share the vision of creating a better world for kids, a world full of opportunities to thrive. Gardens provide an ideal setting and tool for nurturing kids — their bodies and minds — while improving the communities and ecosystems they live in.
We are excited to share a toolkit created by KidsGardening for Kiwanis clubs and Service Leadership Programs. While the toolkit is geared towards the Kiwanis family, all of the tips and advice are perfect for anyone looking to start a youth garden.
Growing Together in the Garden: Benefits of Youth Garden Programs
Gardening engages every child’s innate wonder and care for the natural world, offers them opportunities to participate in hands-on learning and teaches them where their food comes from. Young people who participate in gardening programs enjoy dramatic, documented gains across a diverse range of critical growth areas including personal well-being, nutritional awareness and attitudes, environmental stewardship and community connectedness. Noted benefits of youth gardening programs include:
Academic learning: Gardens provide practical, real world examples and are versatile teaching tools for addressing topics across a curriculum.
Physical health: Gardening offers opportunities to hone gross and fine motor skills in addition to the health-related benefits associated with nutrition and exercise.
Social and emotional support: Gardening impacts the development of self-confidence, patience, responsibility, leadership, teamwork, community spirit and environmental literacy while providing stress relief, engagement and emotional regulation.
Garden programs offer Kiwanis club members just as many rewards. Gardening with youth provides opportunities to develop nurturing relationships across generations and to pass along traditions, knowledge and skills to the next generation (or share the experience of developing skills if new to gardening). Young gardeners share their contagious enthusiasm for learning and life, exciting everyone involved in the growing process. Fostering and facilitating youth gardening efforts is an amazing way to invest in your community!
Ready to get started on your own community or school youth garden program? Here are some of our favorite KidsGardening resources.
To ensure a successful and sustainable youth garden program, you will want to recruit a strong and diverse garden committee. You will also want to build strong partnerships with organizations like schools, community gardens, afterschool programs, city parks, libraries, churches, neighborhood associations, and more. Discover ways to gather support and form a garden committee.
Want to connect with other youth garden programs? KidsGardening supports an online social network called the Kids Garden Community. The Kids Gardening Community is a place where educators, caregivers, and garden community volunteers can come to ask questions, make connections, access resources, learn from each other and stay inspired in order to get more kids learning through the garden.
Dream big, but start small! Make sure you take time to craft goals and design a garden and garden program that best meets the needs of your youth gardeners. Whether you are starting a school garden or a community garden, cultivating ownership in your garden program from the beginning will help you sustain your garden into the future.
Build and Plant
Are you new to gardening? KidsGardening offers a plethora of resources to help you get started growing that green thumb. Learn gardening basics through our how-to articles, garden stories, and growing guides.
Learn how to teach and have fun through the garden using ideas developed and collected by KidsGardening over the last 40 years: KidsGardening has a vast array of digital and print resources to provide inspiration and knowledge to help support youth garden programs including free activities, lesson plans, and digging deeper articles. KidsGardening also offers two newsletters, Kids Garden News and Activity E-Kit to bring inspiration to your inbox. For more interactive support, KidsGardening offers webinars and online courses. Finally, there is a collection of print materials available for purchase.
Funding for a youth garden can come from a number of sources including donations, sponsorships and grants. Each year KidsGardening offers a variety of grant opportunities for schools and nonprofit organizations. These grants offer seed money and supplies to help launch new garden programs and expand existing ones. KidsGardening also host annual contests, including a summer photo contest and Kids Garden Month in April, that seek to engage and inspire youth gardeners.
Pictures courtesy of The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Inc., in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Burbank.