The School Garden Network of Sonoma County supports and promotes sustainable garden and nutrition-based learning programs in Sonoma County schools, connects school communities with fresh, locally grown foods, and provides a forum for exchanging information and resources. We empower youth to embrace healthy eating habits and to develop respect for and stewardship of all living things.
Since its inception in 2003, SGN has awarded over $118,000 in grant funding to 22 local schools. Fundraising and outreach for these programs continue to be top priorities.
Other projects include:
- Providing paid mentors to support grantee schools with guidance and resources.
- Linking school garden programs and volunteers.
- Offering events, workshops and networking opportunities.
- Donating garden-related curriculum to the Sonoma County Office of Education.
- Distributing free plants and seeds to garden programs.
- Creating alliances with local community partners.
- Supporting farm-to-school connections.
Why School Gardens?
Within the last two hundred years, there has been a huge population shift from the country to the city. City dwellers are not familiar with the farm origins of their food, and children have fewer opportunities to learn from nature and rural life. Early twentieth century educators became interested in using school gardens to make up for these lost experiences. They valued hands-on learning in the school day, and teaching nurturing and thrifty habits through gardening.
These goals are even more important today. We can teach students to enjoy growing, cooking and eating fresh produce. This will provide them with life-long knowledge that can help to protect them from the current epidemic of child obesity.
To bring the garden into the tightly scheduled school day, garden-based curriculum has been developed for most academic subjects, especially in elementary school. The most obvious connections are to science and nutrition, but gardens are also often used for teaching English, math, art and social science. In secondary school, a garden can be a laboratory for teaching environmental science, horticulture and culinary arts.
A history of the purposes behind school gardening can be found in City Bountiful: A History of Community Gardening in America, by Laura J. Lawson.