School Gardens and Growing at Home

— Written By and last updated by Deb Fuller

With schools closed through May 15, 2020, what are you doing with your school garden? Is your school administration allowing access to your school garden? Are you encouraging kids and families to grow and garden at home? 

A few schools in Guilford County shared that they are doing the following:

  • Organizing a garden care schedule for families, teachers, or individual volunteers to take turns tending the school garden (fewer than 10 people at a time). Produce will be donated to neighbors and others that need food.
  • Planting at home or in a community garden, and posting regular photo and video updates to share with students.
  • Putting the garden to rest, so that it will be ready (with minimal weeds!) when school resumes. Soil in the garden beds could be covered with a 2-3 inch layer of leaf mulch, cover crops (in May, plant buckwheat or cowpeas and millet), or a sheet of black plastic.

While we are encouraged by public health officials to be physically distant from one another, this does not mean that we have to be socially isolated. Below are resources to support you in continuing to use gardening to engage youth — specifically ways to continue to communicate and engage with families. 

For information about gardening in a group and COVID-19 precautions, read Community Gardens and Community Health

Kids and Families Growing at Home:

From N.C. Cooperative Extension:

  • Grow For It is a resource for gardening with kids, put together by Liz Driscoll from NC State University. It includes activities to share with families including Mischief for Kids
  • For young children, N.C. Cooperative Extension has online resources to support Farm to Childcare, including how to start a container or raised bed garden with young children, recommended plant lists, poisonous plant lists, and what garden tasks children can do at 2 – 5 years old. 

From North Carolina Organizations:

ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School has an extensive library of free lessons and activities in the garden and the kitchen for preschool through elementary-aged kids. 

From National Organizations:

Junior Master Gardener® Program of North Carolina has started a free, online class for elementary schoolers through Facebook Live. Participants will receive a JMG® certification. 

The National Farm to School Network has compiled a list of COVID-19 Resources for Farm to School and ECE, including remote learning resources for students and garden resources. 

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) has put together online resources for Environmental Education at Home, including activity guides, lessons, citizen science projects, and virtual tours of museums and national parks.