A new GREEN tool to ensure ongoing success for school gardens is becoming a plan for continuity so those gardens can continue to benefit future students once a class has graduated or a teacher has moved to a different school.

Sailing with NumbersA teacher or parent may start the garden, but after they leave, the garden may wither from lack of attention unless it has been integrated into the school community. Researchers at Lehman College in New York City have developed the GREEN tool, (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) to define the four levels of successfully integrating a garden into the school community so that it continues to thrive.

Writing in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the team outlined the evidence-based guide to creating and maintaining a sustainable school garden.

Kate Gardner Burt and her colleagues at Lehman College examined the successful gardens at 21 local elementary and middle schools. Common themes for success emerged, including an initial establishment of a garden committee to cope with challenges.

“The other really important piece to integrating the garden that consistently came up in my discussions and interviews was the idea of professional development,” said Gardner. “Many teachers who don’t have horticultural experience might be really intimidated to get into the garden.”

In addition, professional development sessions for teachers that focus on the garden can motivate teachers as a team and boost confidence, even if they are informal, she adds.

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