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The Free Seed Project

We’re on a mission to help people grow their own healthy, organic food.

Rob Greenfield and the Live Like Ally Foundation have partnered to provide the seeds, literally, for an alternative to the industrial, globalized food system, and to encourage people to make a deeper connection with the earth. In 2018 we helped over 2,000 people across all 50 states of the USA to grow their own food. In 2019 we helped over 3,000 people. This year, we’re are back at it again and going bigger than ever. We have a goal of giving away free garden starter kits to 5,000 more people to help them grow their own food in 2020!

The garden starter kit includes seeds for healthy greens like kale, arugula and spinach, nourishing veggies like carrots and beets, and tasty herbs like basil and cilantro. We’ll send you a small amount of each seed, which provides enough for a small to medium sized garden! Plus, we will send you a mix of flowers, which will support the beneficial insects, bees and butterflies in your community and provide you with beautiful visuals and fragrant smells. That’s quite the garden, all from one envelope in the mail!

We want to increase access to organic gardening and healthy food for as many people as we can. If you were to go to the store and purchase 15 or so different packs of seeds it might cost around $40. By ordering in bulk, we are able to provide seed starter kits at a cost to us of less than $2 including shipping. This kit provides the recipient with enough seeds to start a small garden in their yard, a community garden plot, fill up pots on their balcony or patio, or anywhere they’d like.

In 2018 we offered the Free Seed Project to anyone who submitted a request. Due to extremely high demand in 2018 we have changed our mission slightly. We are focusing our efforts on helping people who would not otherwise get to grow their own food or who have never grown food before. We are offering seeds to people who can’t otherwise afford or access seeds as well as groups/ people that are helping others without access to healthy home-grown food and people who have never grown food before.

We encourage you to Like the Live Like Ally Facebook page and follow us Instagram @Live_Like_Ally to follow the stories of new gardeners, get tips on how to grow food, and see notifications first when we have opportunities for free seeds and fruit trees!

(Seed packets are available for United States addresses only due to the high cost of shipping internationally.)

Help the Free Seed Project and Get Involved

Like the Live Like Ally Facebook page and follow them on Instagram @Live_Like_Ally

Send us photos! We’d love to share your story and inspire more people to grow their own food. Please send us photos of you with the seed pack in the space you are going to garden. Please send us a before and after photo of the garden and any other photos you’d like! You can send them to

Share food with your community. Let’s create a culture of sharing our own home-grown food with each other. One of the most powerful ways to stand up against the big food corporations is to create a strong community of people who can produce their own food! Learn about Freestyle Gardening!

Save some seed. If you let one or two of each plant go to seed, then you can turn one seed we supplied you into thousands! One kale plant can yield hundreds of seeds. We don’t provide enough seed for you to start a giant garden in the first year, but if you save seed you can increase the size of your garden each year, without spending any extra money or resources. Soon you could even take on the Free Seed Project role, and give out free seeds to everyone in your community!

Teach someone. We are focused on helping beginner gardeners but if you’re an experienced gardener we’d love your help! Maybe you have a neighbor or friend who’d benefit from growing their own healthy vegetables…share the seeds with them, and help them get growing! And please subscribe to our Facebook Group to help us answer questions from novice gardeners.

Why We’re Doing This

The American food system is largely broken. Less than one hundred years ago, we knew where our food was coming from and we could recognize what we were putting on our tables. Today we are eating more “food-like-substances” than actual food and the majority of our food is controlled by a handful of mega-corporations. The average meal in the USA travels 1,500 miles from farm to fork and has a huge fossil fuel footprint. Food deserts exist all across the nation where there is no access to healthy food. Nearly fifty-million Americans are food insecure, including tens of millions of children and elders. Even most organic food at the big supermarkets comes from Big Organic, which uses an incredible amount of fossil fuels and is held to a low standard compared to true organic.

(To learn more about our current food system you can watch this video).

It truly is amazing what a handful of seeds can create. Seeds, some soil and a little water can feed you, year after year.

As Ron Finley says, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”

The Free Seed Project is brought to you by Rob Greenfield and Live Like Ally Foundation.
To learn more about their partnership .

It’s the perfect time of year to apply for free plants, trees and gardening tools for your school.

Whether you have a gardening club, an eco-society, a heathy eating focus, a neglected space or just a class that you’d like to get working positively outdoors, Sophie Batin, our Education and Outreach Manager shares her Top 5 great free resources to get you started…

  1. Order FREE packs of native tree species to plant in your school by contacting the Woodland Trust, the Earth Restoration Service or the Tree Appeal.
  2. For a smaller (and edible!) project, why not try growing potatoes with a free kit from www.growyourownpotatoes.org.uk?
  3. For younger children, growing sunflowers is a great project that they can try for free, thanks to the packs of seeds sent out by The Big Sunflower Project. Register here and then check out www.teachingideas.co.uk for some fantastic literacy links.
  4. With all this growing to do, you’ll need tools! Visit www.conservationfoundation.co.uk to sign up to their next free tool giveaway in Oxfordshire.
  5. For bigger projects, schools can apply for between £300 and £10,000 from www.awardsforall.org.uk – you could develop a sensory garden, create a wild space, build a nature trail or design a play space and we’d love to help with your application. Email with any questions.

Sophie Batin
Education and Outreach Manager

Many people want to plant a garden, but are daunted by the upfront costs involved. In addition to getting the right soil, you need tools, containers, and several other materials. Getting plants for free would be a huge benefit, right? Well, here are some great ideas on how to score free seeds and plants for your growing project!

Many Reasons for Seeking Out Free Seeds

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Are you new to gardening? Or interested in starting a community garden to help underprivileged people in your community? Maybe you’re aiming to donate the food you produce to a food bank, or perhaps you’d like to start a garden for your child’s school? Or perhaps you’re on a very tight food budget and need to find less expensive ways to eat.

Whatever reasons you have for gardening on a budget, at least you’re gardening! Food security is super high priority these days, and growing even a fraction of your own food is an amazing idea. It doesn’t have to cost much either. We’ve rounded up some great resources to help you feed yourself—and your community—on a budget.

1. Use Social Networking Sites

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Most everyone we know, from our friends to our grandmothers, are on social media these days. These networking sites are ideal places to look for things you need. There are many groups on Facebook that involve seed exchanges, including those where you can trade free seeds with other gardeners.

Here are just a few to try:
Heirloom and Organic Seed Exchange
Rare Seed Exchange
SEED EXCHANGE
Seed Savers Swap and Plant Exchange

Joining groups on Facebook also allows you to get help and mentoring through the whole gardening process. Post on Instagram and Twitter about wanting to procure free seeds (and gardening advice), and see who responds!

2. Websites

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There are a number of websites where you can get items super cheap or even free. I have had a lot of luck with gardening related needs on Front Porch Forum, but that may be because gardening is very popular where I live. Try all the sites and see what you can find! Who knows, maybe there is a prolific gardener in your community just hoping to offload some of her extra seeds or plants.
Some of the best sites to check out are:
Craigslist
FreeCycle
Front Porch Forum
Plant Swap
Seed Exchange

3. Barter

Bartering is awesome. If you have things around the house that you don’t use, try bartering those items for something you need. Like free seeds for your garden.

I was once able to barter some brand new newborn diapers for a giant bottle of maple syrup and freshly picked blackberries. There’s a section on Craigslist just for bartering, and I’ve found that Front Porch Forum is a great place to start.

Are you new to bartering and worried about how it all works? Have no fear: check out Bartering 101: 3 Tips for Making a Good Trade. You may develop a passion for bartering and make some new friends in the process.

4. Forage for Seeds

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Every plant produces seeds, and every seed has the potential to produce a plant if taken care of. Go out into your world, and forage for seeds or plants. This is a simple way to get seeds and plants for free.

Most of what you will find are wild edibles, like herbs, and wild fruits, but many weeds make wholesome and delicious food. So go for a walk and see what you can find. Follow these simple foraging rules to keep yourself and the environment safe.

5. Save Seeds from Farmers Market Produce

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Save seeds from favorite fruits and vegetables you’ve bought at your local farmers market. Since they’ve been grown locally, you know they’ll thrive in your garden as well.

Be sure to save seeds from organic fruits and vegetables from the grocery store as well. Then plant away! You already enjoyed the food—the seeds are free in this deal.

6. Seed Swaps

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Between February and April, many gardeners in a community will get together and swap seeds saved from their garden the previous year. Usually, to participate in a seed swap you need to bring your own seeds to exchange. That said, gardeners tend to be nice people and will often help a beginner by donating a few free seeds.

Do a Google search for seed swaps in your community and attend as many as possible. Get to know the gardeners in your area, learn from them, ask tons of questions. They’ll help in so many ways once you get started.

7. Seed Libraries

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Seed libraries lend seeds to their members in a couple of different ways. Some offer seed “lending”, which allows members to “check out” seeds from the library’s collection, grow them, and then save seeds from their crop to replenish the library.

Attend seed swamps or exchanges, which allow library members or the public meet and exchange free seeds. Check out Seed Libraries for more information.

8. Ask Your Coworkers

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Do any of your co-workers have a green thumb? Ask them if they have any free seeds they could share with you. Most of the time people don’t plant all the seeds in their seed packets, so they might have some to spare. Hint: people who are into container gardening are the best ones to hit up first.

If several people at your office have home gardens, consider getting together to create a community seed bank. You can exchange what you have, and encourage biodiversity in each other’s garden spaces.

9. Ask a Farmer

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Ask some farmers or gardeners in your area if they have some extra seeds to donate to a beginning gardener. You might be surprised! If you’ve befriended some of the farmers at your weekly market, have a chat with them about your goals. They may be able to hook you up with some fabulous seeds to try out.

They might even have some older, unused seeds that they can pass along to you. You’ll have to test them for viability, but you’re still likely to get a few healthy plants out of the exchange.

10. Host a Potluck

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Invite friends who have green thumbs. Ask them to bring a dish and some seeds to exchange with others. This is a great way to get a bunch of gardeners under one roof, while sharing great food and conversation. You’ll score some free seeds, and learn a lot of garden tips as well.

11. Non-Profit Organizations

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Some non-profit organizations and seed companies offer free seeds to people in need. They also donate seed packages to those trying to establish community or school gardens. Some also give free seeds to people who will then save theirs to pass on to others in turn. Here are some places to start:

Seed Savers Exchange
West Coast Seeds
If you’re Native American, you may be eligible to get free seeds from Native Seeds.

The Global Seed Network offers a number of resources who work worldwide to help provide seeds and build stronger global food security.

12. Join A Government Research Project

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In this case, the Canadian government is looking for backyard gardeners to plant and cultivate rare varieties to help maintain biodiversity. It’s a fun project and you get a chance to try growing some rare varieties you might not have the chance to try otherwise. Ask your local agricultural extension office if there are any programs like this in your area. They might be able to point you in the right direction.

13. Feed a Bee

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Feed a Bee is a program to help propagate the bee population. They offer free seeds to people who will plant bee-friendly varieties in their gardens. It’s incredibly important for every gardener to offer bees nutritious plants in their garden, so take advantage of this!

14. Become a Butterfly Hero

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The Butterfly Hero program is similar to Feed a Bee, but their focus is on saving Monarch butterflies.

15. Enter Free Seeds Giveaways or Sweepstakes

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Seeds Now shares many giveaways and sweepstakes on their website. Many of them offer free seeds and other free garden goodies.

16. Local Garden Center

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Ask for if they have any expired seed packets, as many seeds will still grow even if they’re a bit older. Learn how to grow seeds that are out of date.

You can also ask for discounts on plants that look weak. Bring them home and see if you can nurture them and give them a second chance.

17. Scour the Bulk Section

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The bulk section of your grocery store is a good place to get some really cheap, practically free seeds. Just a teaspoon of fennel, mustard, dill, coriander, poppy, and celery seed will establish a good sized garden for pennies. Bring some to a seed exchange or seed library to trade for other plants.

Tip: for totally free seeds, ask if you can pick up seeds that have been spilled onto the floor around the bins. They’d just be swept up and thrown out anyway.

18. Regrow Vegetables

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Try regrowing vegetables you bought at the farmers market or grocery store. Here are several vegetables that magically regrow themselves.

19. Save Your Own Garden Seeds

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If you’ve grown some plants of your own, allow a few of each plant to go to seed at the end of each year’s growing season. Then you’ll be able to harvest those seeds, and plant them again next year. Seed Savers Exchange offers a nice guide on how to save seeds.

20. Allow Plants to Re-seed Themselves

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Finally, just allow your plants to reseed themselves. This means either allowing the seed heads to scatter freely all over your garden, or letting a few vegetables rot in place. You’ll have brand new plants next season without having to do any work! Here’s a list of self-seeding crops you’ll never have to replant.

Try as many of these suggestions as possible, and enjoy your harvest!

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250+ Free Things for Gardens! A Must for Gardeners

How does your garden grow? Everything is better with free things! So, why not gardens?

We’ve harvested a TON of free things you can get to help your lawn and garden grow better.

Get ready to plant your garden with our big list of garden freebies! From vegetable plants, herbs, flowers, and lawn care tips – we’ve got something to help make every green thumb greener!

Don’t miss the hundreds of free books on Amazon. Plus, 60 free catalogs (many include high-value coupons!) Composting, and other tips and hacks. Where to find a master gardener, and how to plan your garden with free tools. Recipes for freshly grown produce. And even garden giveaways!

100+ Free Gardening Books on Amazon

Note: prices change often on Amazon. Please be sure of the price is $0 on any of the Amazon ebooks.

  1. 5 Book Set: How to Grow Food in a Small Area
  2. Gardening: The Ultimate Gardening Guide-Book for Your Organic Garden
  3. Vertical Gardening: The Beginner’s Guide To Organic & Sustainable Produce Production Without A Backyard
  4. Garden Magic In Your Backyard!: The Experts tell you how – covers a variety of subjects like perennials, bulbs, pruning, mulch, vermiculture and more.
  5. A to Z Gardening for Beginners This guide will help you know all the basics of gardening. Everything from types of gardens, how much sunlight plants need, companion planting, essential garden tools to have, and much more.
  6. Easy Container Gardening – 10 Beautiful benefits of container gardening
  7. Container Gardening: Month by Month – Container gardening is gardening at its most versatile.
  8. Tomatoes and Herb Gardening – A beginners manual for growing herbs and tomatoes
  9. Learn how to successfully DIY design your garden, and what to look for when hiring professional landscapers and designers to help you – Garden Design and Landscaping – The Beginner’s Guide to the Processes Involved with Successfully Landscaping a Garden
  10. Another great guide for saving seeds – Saving Your Own Vegetable Seeds
  11. Weekend Homesteader
  12. Perennial Gardening
  13. Gardening 101
  14. HUNDREDS MORE free books for Crafts, Hobbies, and Home (including gardening books!)

You can read Free Kindle books on any device! Click the link above to get your free book. And, you can read it anywhere. You don’t even need a Kindle! You can get the for every major device and computer available.
Read this anywhere with the Free Kindle Reading app!

Find the

Free PDF Gardening Books

Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees

Knotts Handbook for Vegetable Growers

North American Rock Garden – you can read the older issues of Rock Garden Quarterly for free

Organic Gardening for Dummies

Project Gutenberg – free gardening ebooks

Free Seed & Garden Books by Mail

You can request these free seed catalogs. Click on the catalog link, fill out your shipping information on the form and submit the completed form. We have also listed online catalogs

A

Annie’s Annuals – Order their catalog for exclusive plants. Sign up for their newsletter and get nursery news and info on our sales days.

Annie’s Heirloom Seeds

B

Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds

Bluestone Perennials

Botanical Interests

Brent & Becky’s Bulbs

Burgess Seed Co

Burnt Ridge

Burpee – Order their catalog and you will also be eligible for a money-saving promo code on your first order.

Burrell

D

Dixondale Farms

Dutch Gardens Flowers

E

Eden Brothers – Online catalog and shopping

Exciting Gardens

F

Fedco Seeds – Online catalogs and PDF downloads

Four Seasons Nurseries

G

Gardeners Idea Book from Proven Winners – Add “WOW” to your garden! Create beds of lasting color. Turn foliage into focal points. Plant colorful containers with high impact. Find blooming shrubs for your region!

Gardener’s Supply Co

Gardens Alive! – Online catalog

Gilbert H. Wild & Son’s Free Plant Catalog

Gurney’s Seed & Nursery – Order their catalog and also get a coupon for $25 OFF your purchase! Request a catalog for your friends!

H

Harris Seed

High Mowing Organic

Horizon Herb

HPS Seed

J

Jackson & Perkins Gift and Plant – Request a rose, plant or gift catalog

Johnny’s Selected Seeds – Sign up for their catalog and you can also sign up for their newsletter which will have savings, product news and more.

Jung’s

K

Kitazawa

Kitchen Garden Seeds

L

Lilypons Water Gardens

Logee Tropical plants

M

Michigan Bulb Co

N

Natural Gardening

NESeed

Nichols Garden – Online PDF catalog

O

Osborne Seed

P

Park Seed Co

Pinetree Garden Seeds

Prairie Nursery

Prairie Road Organic

R

Raintree Nursery

Redwood City City Seed – Online catalog

Renee’s Garden – Online catalog

R. H. Shumway

Ritchers Herbs & Vegetables

Rohrer Seeds – Click on the green Request a Seed Catalog button at the bottom of the page

S

Seed Savers Exchange

Seeds from Italy

Seeds of Change Organic

Select Seeds

Siskiyou Seeds

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Sow True Seeds

Spring Hill Nursery – Provide your email and they will send you a $25.00 coupon off your next purchase of $50 or more

Stark Bros

Stokes Seeds

T

Territorial Seed Co – Specializes in seeds, plants, garden tools and more

Tomato Grower’s Supply

Totally Tomatoes Plant and Seed

U

Urban Farmer Seeds

V

Van Bougondien – Dutch flower bulbs and perennials

Van Engelen – Dutch Flower bulbs

Vermont Bean

Vesey’s Organic

Victory Seeds – PDF download

W

Wayside Gardens

West Coast Seeds

White Flower Farm & Bulb

Wildseed Farms

Compost Tips

  • DIY! Grab some FREE Starbucks coffee grounds! and set up your ultimate compost. Check with your local Starbucks to see if they are participating. This is on a first-come, first-serve basis. They give away large 5-pound bags of coffee grounds for free.
  • Sign up for free wood chip mulch in your area. This may not be available to all. Sign up for Chipdrop
  • Contact your local yard waste center to check on the availability of mulch and compost. You may have to load up your own bags and garbage cans but the savings will be worth it.
  • Here are more tips for composting

Pest Control

  • Here are some great tips for keeping critters out of the garden.
  • Get a free sample pack and brochure from Benner’s Garden
  • Identify those insects in your garden, with this guide! This guide will show you what the insect looks like and their behavior. Orkin Pest Control Library
  • Here’s a spider identification chart —Spider ID chart
  • A little something for the kids! Free Coloring Pages. Insect Coloring Pages
  • Cornmeal Gluten as a weed killer
  • Home Made Mosquito Yard Spray
  • Best Homemade Weed Killer

More Gardening Tips and Hacks

  • Find a master gardener in your area for free!
  • Free Interactive Kitchen Garden Planner
  • Free Garden Notebook
  • How to Can Tomatoes
  • Easy Refrigerator Pickles (my favorite recipe!)
  • How to freeze zucchini so it’s not mushy!
  • How to Make Homemaid Sundried Tomatoes from the Garden
  • Deep Root Watering tip:
  • Highly rated Gardening Claw Gloves

Garden Giveaways

Burpee New Plant Giveaway- Enter for your chance to win a box of 2021’s new vegetable & herb introductions from Burpee Plants. There will 6 lucky winners. Enter by March 15, 2020. Burpee New Plants Giveaway from Garden Gate

Mother Earth News – Get the chance to win a $24,000 prize package consisting of an outdoor furnace, a robotic lawn mower, a two-wheeled tractor, a vegetable table, and much more. Ends August 26, 2020. Mother Earth News – 50th Anniversary Giveaway

Love freebies? Be sure to claim all of the Newest Freebies here! Then, Join all of our FB Groups and Sign up for Instant Freebie Alerts on FB Messenger!

How to Get this Free:

Carefully read through our instructions above, then follow the links to go to the sponsoring company’s site. Each offer is different, so make sure to read the directions carefully. GimmieFreebies finds the best freebies and shares with our readers; we do not claim to give away free stuff. But, we are one of the only legit freebie sites that actually warns readers about scams and Fake Freebies to Avoid! Once you request freebies in the mail, they can take weeks and sometimes months to arrive in your mailbox. That’s why we also share free things in stores near you! So, you can get instant freebies without waiting! We also share more valuable freebies you can apply to test & keep, and free things you can win as prizes. Be sure to notice the difference, so you know what to expect. When you’re done with this post, head back to the current list of Free Stuff! To learn more about how freebies really work, and how to get free things, visit and JOIN our Free Stuff group on Facebook and read this group post – the best way to learn freebies online.

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by Rick Gush April 16, 2010


Photo by Rick Gush

I like finding stuff for free.

I’ve always found a lot of plants for free, often laying in the gutter, other times available for the harvesting, and often while adventuring around old, abandoned homesites.

The first photo is of the Chionodoxa blooming in the potted plants section of our garden. We dug these bulbs up in the garden of an abandoned villa last fall. Seeing them all blooming now in their pots is nice, and I’m sure they’ll do well once planted into the garden.

Our garden includes a lot of things that were free for the taking. A whole lot of the decorative plants were free, the bottles used to construct the terraces were free, the construction lumber and bamboo canes were free, and even some of the edible stuff, like the figs, plums, mushrooms, horseradish, wild arrugula, beet greens and wild asparagus were all free.

I certainly have enough money to buy whatever plants and building materials I need for my projects, but finding free stuff is sort of like a sport. I imagine that finding free stuff used to be the primary means of gardening. Now in this time of global-super-shopping capacity, finding free stuff is more fun than ever, sort of counteractively political.

The winter garden construction projects are just about finished now, and it’s time to focus on spring planting and cutting back the jungle of weeds. I do still have one big project though, and that’s filling up the new lower bed, shown almost completed in the second photo for today.

Moving large amounts of soil around the garden is a daunting task. The new bed is quite deep and will need about five cubic yards of fill soil, all of which will need to be carried by bucket.

The dirt source for this planter is up at the very top of the garden site and is at least half rocks, so it will all need to be screened. It’s mostly mineral, so I’ll add as much organic material as I can round up in the way of cow and steer manure, old leaves and our home-made compost.

It takes about fifteen minutes to clean and prepare two buckets full of soil and carry them down to the terrace. I’m calculating it will take around 200 trips with a pair of full buckets to fill the bed. My back is aching and my waistline has diminished just thinking about the job.

I did finally plant the first tomatoes on Saturday, as that was the first day that the ground could really be worked. We’ve got 12 Datterino plants now, and these will be one of the three key tomato plantings.

The cherry and yellow pear bed will also be important, as will the sauce tomatoes bed. I’ve got a few big black tomato seedlings in the coldframe too. I got those for free from a friend, so of course, those will have to find a niche somewhere in the garden as well.

Seeds of Change: The Value of School Gardens in Education and Community Health

This is part of a series of multimedia stories curated through a collaboration between Earthworks Farm and KCETLink. Watch a segment from KCET’s “SoCal Connected” and visit the project hub for more information.

One school is challenging the current model of school lunch. Watch the five-minute California Matters episode about it here.

Today in El Monte and South El Monte, you can find a number of Asian supermarkets with signs that tri-lingually display the words: supermarket, siêu thị, and supermercado. This wasn’t the case thirty years ago. When my family first arrived to the San Gabriel Valley as refugees, they couldn’t find particular foods in the supermarket. So we grew them — lemongrass, herbs, and other hard-to-find vegetables. Gardening was and still is a norm for my Vietnamese family. In our yard, our mom grows a vegetable called bạc hà, known as (and looks like) a “giant elephant ear.” My dad uses it to cook canh chua (sour soup), a popular Vietnamese meal made of catfish, pineapple, and tomatoes, all simmered in tamarind-flavored broth.

At school, I got to experience gardening activities too. Though these activities were not frequent, they were memorable. In Mr. Marquez’s 5th grade science class at Dean L. Shively Middle School, we germinated lima beans by placing seeds between wet paper towels and put them in ziplock bags, then transferred them into disposable cups. In Ms. L’Allemand’s biology class at South El Monte High School, we had a garden where I was given a plot to measure, plant, and grow two items. I chose peas and carrots. Students were asked to document plant growth and when our vegetables were ready for harvesting, we concluded the unit by having a garden eating party.

Gardening at school and at home can provide young people with learning opportunities, lasting skills, and positive, memorable experiences. But perhaps most importantly, gardening can help foster healthy lifestyles and encourage healthy eating with more nutritious foods — something that communities like South El Monte and El Monte urgently need.

Story continues below

Alleviating Suburban Poverty with School and Community Gardens

Across the 12.4 square miles that collectively make up the El Monte and South El Monte area is a population of 133,591. In this culturally vibrant space, where you can easily get a delicious bowl of phở or pozole, lay suburban poverty and what some would call a food desert.

Healthy food access can be difficult and complex for low-income communities, which can result in poor health outcomes. These issues are directly tied to poverty which, interestingly, is most present not in urban cities, as one might assume, but increasingly in the suburbs. According to the authors of “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America,” more people live below the poverty line in suburbs than in the country’s big cities. And according to the U.S. Census, one in four people in El Monte and one in five people in South El Monte live in poverty.

Moreover, according to the Los Angeles Department of Health, one of three children and one of three adults in the El Monte and South El Monte area are obese. Obesity is tied into the choices we have and the choices we make about food. Yet what happens when we don’t or seemingly don’t have choices?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food deserts are “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.” For many, it’s difficult to think of communities like El Monte and South El Monte as food deserts because there are a few grocery stores, not to mention countless liquor stores that sell snacks and limited food items. However, just because Superior Grocer and Shun Fat Supermarket are in the community does not mean that there is a high consumption of fresh and healthy foods. In many stores, there are more chip varieties than apples. Many dietitians and medical doctors believe that access to unhealthy food can be equally bad as poor access to fresh and healthy foods. Yet, they also tell us that it’s not about depriving ourselves of what we love, but rather moderation. In a community where chamango and boba are cross-cultural staples, it is important to celebrate our food while embracing new ways to learn about healthy food as a community. The authors of “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America” express the importance of communities in leading the way for collaborations and solutions by tapping into their collective strengths and objectives.

Fortunately, South El Monte and El Monte have already started leveraging local resources towards local empowerment. Earthworks Community Farm in South El Monte, for example, has become a vibrant resource in the community and is actively reaching beyond the farm and into schools to show students and their teachers how gardening can reconnect them with their food source and the land, and help them take more charge over their own health. Schools such as Akitoi Learning Center, a head start and preschool center, have integrated their garden into their curriculum and have supplemented its harvest into student lunches. The Center for Disease Control identifies school gardens as an effective obesity prevention strategy, since it provides students with a number of opportunities to practice skills and create positive behaviors such as diversifying our relationship with food.

Earthworks offers young gardeners a variety of workshops.Photo courtesy of Earthworks Community Farm.

Cultivating Nutrition & Learning

There’s a reason why schools across the country and throughout the Greater Los Angeles area have started building gardens. By developing green thumbs, gardening activities cultivate the whole child as well as the whole community. Research shows that students who engage in school gardening activities are likely to experience academic, physical, emotional, social, and even behavioral benefits. In a sense, school gardens are also part of the broader well-being of an entire community. School garden are proven to:

  • Improve nutrition knowledge and attitude towards fruits and vegetables: Children who engage in gardening activities can instill pride in the foods that they grow. In doing so, they can also learn about the nutritional benefits of food and develop a more positive association to fruits and vegetables.
  • Increase interest in new foods: “Ew, what’s that?” Rather than being fearful of unfamiliar foods, gardening fosters healthy food experiments for children, especially when paired with cooking opportunities.
  • Foster life skills: From working independently to collaboratively, gardening instills many life skills such as teamwork, self-understanding, leadership, decision-making skills, communication skills, and volunteerism.
  • Instill appreciation for the environment: Gardening engages students in understanding the ecosystem. Children not only learn about how food grows, but what it takes for food to grow. Gardening education can span areas like water conservation and land use.
  • Teach life-long lessons: Lessons and skills children learn from gardening are known to stay with children throughout adulthood. From appreciating nature to identifying seasonal vegetables and fruits, gardening can provide children life-long benefits.
  • Promote cultural awareness and intergenerational learning: For communities with high non-English speaking populations, there is often a cultural and linguistic gap between school children and their elders. School gardening has reportedly helped alleviate this gap as grandparents are teaching their grandchildren how to garden.

And yet, as many educators know, an increased emphasis on standardized testing has pushed out school activities that are not immediately perceived to support test performance. However, school gardening activities can adhere to standards while providing children with interdisciplinary and hands-on learning, in the following ways:

  • Literacy: Gardening can teach and engage children a number of literacy skills. For example, children can read informational materials such as seed packets and reference books. It may also be necessary for them to conduct Internet research. In addition, children can engage in writing field notes and reflections about what and how they grow food.
  • Mathematics: Through gardening children engage in activities like measuring the depth of seed planting and the distance required between them. In addition, they will need to calculate the time and the amount of water it takes for their plants to grow.
  • Science: By engaging in gardening, children are naturally engaged in scientific inquiry. In fact, many advocates consider school gardens to be the “living laboratory.” Children can apply scientific principles to design and articulate their scientific method, state their hypothesis, as well as document the process and outcome.

Innovative Problem-Solving

While parents, teachers, and administrators may be sold on the idea and benefits of school gardening, there can be barriers or challenges along the way. Two of the main challenges are leadership and land: Who will drive the idea and efforts, and where will the school gardens be?

The driving force to any initiative is leadership; however, who we perceive as a leader can be complicated. Gardening initiatives have been known to be driven by teachers, parents, students, administrators, or a combination of some or all. In fact, most school gardening advocates suggest developing a committee. Whether it’s a team or a single person, it requires the will and the follow-through of the leader(s) to move gardening efforts forward.

Limitations in land availability at schools can be a barrier in creating a garden. However, many school gardens have found innovative ways to grow. Schools that lack soil space are developing raised or container gardens. Some classrooms are growing indoor gardens through planters or even creating innovative vertical gardens.

Already we see strong examples of gardens that bring together schools with community to make school gardens that are supported by the local community. In Los Angeles, at Micheltorena Elementary and North Hollywood High School, gardens have been created that are run by teachers, students, parents, and other locals, in a collaborative effort that benefits both school and community.

In El Monte, Arroyo High School is just one of numerous schools that have committed themselves to creating a school garden. Though still in the early stages of building their garden, students from KCET’s Youth Voices program have begun their own garden journey by putting shovel to earth, raising funds with fruit infused waters (aguas frescas) and building collaborations with teachers as well as local environmental stewards such as Amigos de los Rios.

Students at Arroyo High School in El Monte identified an unused piece of land on school property to start a garden project. Much of the intensive labor of weeding the overgrown land was performed by students. Photo by Rubi Fregoso. The garden boxes are ready for the planting of an edible school garden. Photo by Rubi Fregoso.

School gardens can be made possible with some organizing and creative thinking, and can be the beginning or a product of a larger community effort. To mobilize or foster support for school gardening, there is a number of things that anyone in the community can do. Here are some examples:

  • Speak up: If you are interested in a school or community garden for your neighborhood, talk to your local council member, school principal, or teacher. Simply having a conversation can lead to many great things such as the beginning of a school garden.
  • Volunteer: Roll up your sleeves and help out. School gardens are most effective when everyone pitches in.
  • Donations and Sponsors: From dollar stores to hardware stores, seek out local businesses that can help sponsor gardening activities with materials they already carry, such as seeds, shovels, and gloves.
  • Recycle and Compost: Many school gardening activities can be supported by repurposing materials into other uses. Save organic materials such as food waste that can be composted into rich soil for healthy plants. Plastic bottles and milk cartons can be reused into seedling planters. Even popsicle sticks can be used to mark plants.
  • Support your garden: Many school and community gardens have been able to sustain and grow their garden by finding innovative ways to fundraise and engage with the community-at-large. Some, like Earthworks Farm, have a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for which individuals can purchase a membership and receive fresh produce directly from the source, while at the same time support the farm operation.

School gardening is not some novelty movement. Supporting school gardens means we are supporting our youth and their learning, as well as forging a new and improved relationship with food.

Resources:
University of California Cooperative Extension
Ecotrust
Food Hub
Let’s Move
National Farm to School Network
School Garden Wizard
USDA Food and Nutrition Service
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Kneebone, E., & Berube, A. (2013). Confronting suburban poverty in America.

What’s in the Free Seed Project Pack (2019)

Your 2019 Free Seed Project Pack Guide

Congratulations on receiving your garden starter kit from the Free Seed Project! You are on your way to a beautiful, organic garden that will provide food for you and your community, while providing benefit to pollinators and beneficial critters and insects in your neighborhood.

This page serves as a resource for you to identify each of the seeds in your pack as well as get planting information for each one. Each seed packet is labeled with a number that corresponds to the numbers on this list. This system allows us to save a lot of materials and costs by using the smallest packets possible. To get information about each seed variety, including planting instructions, click the highlighted link for each seed variety. This will take you to the link for the seed on Johnny’s Seeds. All seeds in the Free Seed Project currently come from Johnny’s Seeds. We have chosen them because of their high standard of environmental and social ethics as well as their extremely helpful website. To learn more about the seeds they provide . See their Grower’s Library where they provide clear, accurate, timely information that helps you excel as a grower. You may find their Ask a Grower option to be extremely helpful. Using this form, you have access to a knowledgeable team of experienced growers to assist you with your questions. They respond within 48 hours.

For help starting your garden please read our Free Seed Project Gardening Guide.

We hope you enjoy the bounty of food that can come from this variety pack!

  1. Kale (40 seeds) Toscano kale variety (also called Lacinato or dinosaur kale).
  2. Arugula (170 seeds) Mix of Esmee and Astro arugula varieties
  3. Collard (90 seeds) Champion collard variety
  4. Lettuce (200 seeds) All Star Gourmet Lettuce Mix
  5. Mustard Green (80 seeds) Mix of Red Giant and Green Wave mustard green varieties
  6. Cabbage (25 seeds) Red Express cabbage variety
  7. Carrot (40 seeds) Bolero variety
  8. Radish (10 seeds) Rover Radish variety
  9. Turnip (60 seeds) Purple Top White Globe turnip variety
  10. Bunching Onion (90 seeds) Mix of White Spear and Evergreen Hardy White bunching onion varieties
  11. Tomato (25 seeds) Mix of Black Cherry and German Johnson tomato varieties
  12. Basil (200 seeds) Mix of Genovese, Sweet Thai and Red Rubin basil varieties
  13. Chive (90 seeds) Mix of Purly and Garlic chive varieties
  14. Dill (50 seeds) Bouquet Dill variety
  15. Beneficial Insect Attractant Mix (flowers) (100 seeds)

This mix contains approximately 19 different plants that attract beneficial insects. Perennial and annual varieties attract a wide array of beneficial insects that prey upon unwanted garden insect pests. Watch this video to learn about beneficial insects. Mix contains:

• Alyssum saxatile – Basket of Gold
• Ammi majus – False Queen Anne’s Lace
• Anethum graveolens – Dill
• Cheiranthus allionii – Siberian Wallflower
• Chrysanthemum paludosum – Creeping Daisy
• Coreopsis lanceolata – Lanceleaf Coreopsis
• Coriandrum sativum – Cilantro
• Cosmos bipinnatus – Dwarf Cosmos
• Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover
• Eschscholzia californica – California Poppy
• Foeniculum vulgare – Leaf Fennel
• Gilia capitata – Globe Gilia
• Iberis umbellata – Candytuft
• Liatris spicata – Blazing Star
• Leucanthemum X superbum – Shasta Daisy
• Lobularia maritima – Sweet Alyssum
• Monarda fistulosa – Bergamot
• Nemophila menziesii – Baby Blue-Eyes
• Rudbeckia hirta – Black-Eyed Susan

Please note that the number written on each of the seed packets can easily be rubbed off. We recommend you take precaution when handling the packets, as to not wipe off the number. To help with this, we have included a visual key below, that will help you identify any packets that have lost their number.

Grant Opportunities for School and Youth Garden Programs

We know finding the financial resources to plant and maintain a youth garden is one of the biggest obstacles educators and volunteers face, so in addition to providing our own grant programs, here is a list of some additional grant opportunities that support youth garden programs. Please note, we are not directly affiliated with any of these grant programs, so please visit their websites for full details and application instructions.

KidsGardening Grants

Youth Garden Grant – Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States or US Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply.

Budding Botanist – Open to Title 1 public and private schools in the US, the Budding Botanist grant will help our youngest citizens learn about plants, explore their world and inspire them to take care of the life they discover in their local ecosystems.

Carton 2 Garden – Open to public and private schools, contest winners will be selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative and sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons.

Gro More Good Grassroots Grant – The Gro More Good Grassroots Grant presented by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening is designed to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens to communities across the United States. Grants will be awarded to schools and non-profit groups across the country for impactful, youth-focused garden projects.

Other Grants

American Heart Association Teaching Gardens – The American Heart Association works with schools to find local sponsors to help fund the installation of raised bed gardens in schools.

Annie’s Garden Funder™ on CrowdRise – Annie’s Garden Funder is a tool to help schools set up a fundraiser through CrowdRise to fund school garden programs.

Annie’s Grants for Gardens – Annie’s Grants support new and existing school garden programs.

The Bee Cause Grant – This grant provides honey bee observation hives to schools and receives requests on a rolling basis.

Big Green – Big Green offers funding for low-income schools to install Learning Gardens in targeted locations. A list of school districts eligible to apply can be found on their website.

Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program – Bonnie’s provides free mega-cabbage plants to 3rd grade teachers who want to participate. Students grow the cabbages and submit pictures and measurements of their harvest to be considered for a $1,000 scholarship.

Captain Planet Foundation, Project Learning Garden – Offering many different types of environmental education grants, Captain Planet supports garden programs through Project Learning Garden grants that provide garden supplies and a mobile cooking cart.

The Donald Samull Classroom Herb Garden Grant – The Herb Society of America offers grants to elementary schools to support the planting of an outdoor herb garden.

Fiskars Project Orange Thumb Grants – Project Orange Thumb provides grants to school and community gardens.

Greenworks Grants – Project Learning Tree offers annual GreenWorks! grants up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects that link classroom learning to the real world. To be eligible, applicants must have attended a PLT workshop, either in-person or online, that provides training, lesson plans, and other resources to help integrate these projects and environmental education into your curriculum or youth programs.

National Head Start Association Gro More Garden Grants- The National Head Start Association with support from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation provides grants to Head Start organizations aiming to increase both students’ and their families’ appreciation and understanding for healthy foods and nutrition through garden programs.

KaBOOM! Playground Grants – KaBOOM! offers grants and consulting assistance to improve play areas at schools. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and filled as opportunities arise.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools – Through this program, schools can apply to receive a salad bar in their cafeteria. Applications are received year round and filled as funds become available.

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants – Offering a spring and fall grant cycle, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants funds a wide range of projects for schools, including support for gardening programs.

National Wildlife Federation Trees for Wildlife – NWF offers free native trees for restoration projects and community events planned in coordination with local NWF partners.

Nature Works Everywhere – The Nature Conservancy offers grants to schools for projects that involve students in developing a nature-based, green infrastructure solution to an environmental challenge in their community including school gardens.

Seed Money – A Maine-based 501c3 nonprofit that is helping public food gardens to start and thrive by offering them grants, access to crowdfunding and technical assistance with garden planning.

Seeds of Change® Grant Program – An annual grant program awarding school and community gardens focused on sustainability and health education.

Shade Structure Grant Program – From the American Academy of Dermatology, the Shade Structure Grant provides funding to install permanent shade structures for youth programs. Applicants must collaborate with a local dermatologist and implement a sun safety program.

Sponsor-a-Hive Award – The Sponsor-A-Hive program offered by The Honeybee Conservancy provides bees and equipment to help people safely set up, maintain, and observe on-site bee sanctuaries at schools, community gardens, and green spaces across the United States. Award winners will also receive a Teacher’s Kit to help with program implementation.

Tractor Supply Company Grants for Growing – Available for FFA Chapters, this grant offers funding to schools for starting and expanding agricultural projects.

Wild Ones Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant – Wild Ones offers funding and plants to schools for development of learning spaces featuring native plants and focused on environmental education.

Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grants – In partnership with FoodCorp, Whole Kids Foundation offers a number of garden grant to support new or existing edible garden programs including a School Garden Grant, Extended Learning Garden Grant (for gardens not on school grounds), Honey Bee Grant, School Salad Bar Grant, Healthy Kids Innovation Grant, and Canadian Farm to School Grant.

We are pleased to introduce our free seeds for school project. From class science projects, school garden clubs or a class activity we are more than happy to provide your school free seeds. Where possible a link in return to Growseed would be great but not required to take part.

School Science Projects

If your looking to run an experiment in class to show the children how seeds germinate or sprout then we can send out a packet of broad bean seeds or pea seeds. These are ideal to see a clear root / develop from the seed, very easy to handle and no seed treatment has been applied so safe for teachers and students to touch.

School Garden Clubs

We can provide a host of vegetable seeds to suit any needs you may have here at Growseed we offer two standard vegetable seed collections but your free to request alternative or different seed, just let us know what you require!

Young Children and Primary School 3 – 8 year olds

We provide simple large seeds. This collection includes: Broad Beans, Peas, Pumpkin & Squash and Sunflower seeds. All of these seeds are a good size for tiny fingers to pick up and handle no need to worry about tiny seeds getting lost or dropped in the wrong area.

Primary School & Comprehensive Ages 8+

This packet is made up of seeds a little bit smaller and not so easy to handle try to pick up one single seed at a time with your fingers can be a bit of a task! This collection includes: Onion, Carrot, Cauliflower, Leek, Squash & Pumpkin, Peas and Sunflower seeds.

Send us a message on the contact us page. Let us know what requirements you have and your seeds will be in the post.

Please note as this is a seed for school promotion we can only deliver to a School address. This is open to all schools within the UK. We need your address to provide the seeds, no address and we can not post sorry! Offer is open provided you are willing to share our website on the schools green/gardening page and or share a social media post!

Introduction

Our goal is to support teachers, administrators, guardians, youth groups, after school programs, amongst others, in guiding students through a discovery process that will increase students’ understanding in science, math, and language arts by connecting them to plants, pollinators, food, and gardens by (potentially) creating habitat for pollinators. We say “potentially” because building a school habitat garden requires a real commitment. Planting the garden habitat is relatively easy, but making it grow, thrive, and survive several seasons is a commitment and a challenge.

We believe that getting children outside and into the garden is the most valuable part of this experience. But we are also realistic and we urge you to be, too.

More than anything, we want you to use the Bee Smart® School Garden Kit to help expose your students to new ideas about food, wildlife, and plants. It should also help students choose behaviors that support their own health, the health of the planet, and all its plants and animals. And we want the experience to be one that gives you fun, easy, and effective tools to teach and support your curriculum objectives.

We look forward to a bee-utiful learning experience together!

Overview

The Kit can be approached in 3 ways:

  • Using school land to create or augment a garden habitat
  • Using other demonstration areas to create or visit garden habitat
  • Using only in-classroom lessons and on-line experiences without a garden

Each Kit has components that can be used at school, at home, and online to maximize the learning experience. Although we know a diverse group of schools will be using this Kit, we have included the California School Standards at the end of each Lesson Plan as a point of reference. There will also be recommendations that will help connect community resources to the outdoor classroom. Each Kit will include teacher incentives from our partner, Burt’s Bees, to reward teachers for helping students become more bee-conscious.

Target Audience and Goals

We have developed the Bee Smart® School Garden Kit for school administrators, educators, teachers, garden coordinators, and parents for use with students in grades 3 to 6.

The Bee Smart® School Garden Kit Includes:

  • Pre- and post-tests
  • 10 lesson plans with accompanying reproducible worksheets
  • Materials for lesson plan activities
  • Reproducible handouts
  • Access to additional Bee Smart® School Garden Kit materials on the Pollinator Partnership website at www.pollinator.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get a Bee Smart® School Garden Kit? Visit this link: http://pollinator.org/beesmart_give.htm
  • Is my donation tax deductible? For your $175 donation, you receive a School Garden Kit valued at $125 – that is our cost to produce the materials alone for each kit. The remaining $50 of the $175 is tax-deductable as a donation to our work as a 501 (c)(3) non profit. It is tax deductable to the full extent allowed by law.
  • Do we ship outside of the U.S.? Not at this time.
  • Can the shipping address be different from the billing address? Yes, add your shipping address information under the “Add Special Instructions to the Seller” on the PayPal “Review” page when donating via credit card.
  • How long does it take for the package to arrive? Within 2 weeks.
  • How will the package be shipped? Priority United States Postal Service.
  • Can I rush the delivery of the Kit? Not at this time.
  • Can I pay by check? Yes. Send the check with a note included that this is for the Bee Smart School Garden Kit. Make payable and mail to: Pollinator Partnership 423 Washington St., 5th Floor San Francisco, CA 94111

Photo Credits

Special thanks to photographer Marshall Gordon and artist representative Freda Scott for their contribution of Bee Smart® School Garden Kit photographs for use on the P2 website and outreach materials.

Legal

  • Disclaimer of Liability: The Pollinator Partnership disclaims, and recipients hereby agree to assume, all responsibility and liability for any damages or other harm, whether to recipients or to third-parties, resulting from recipients use of the Bee Smart® School Garden Kit.
  • The Bee Smart® School Garden Kit cannot be used for resale or reproduced without permission from the Pollinator Partnership.

BeeSmart is a registered trademark of Bee Smart Designs, manufacturers of Ultimate Beekeeping Equipment, and is used with permission.

Order

Refill Your Kit

Order a Kit

Binder Curriculum: By donating $175 USD / $225 CAD to the Pollinator Partnership you, or a designated school, will receive 1 school garden kit with color printed curriculum. $50 of the total is tax-deductible as a donation to our work as a 501 (c)(3) non profit. It is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Digital Curriculum: By donating $85 USD / $110 CAD to the Pollinator Partnership you, or a designated school, will receive 1 school garden kit with digital curriculum. $20 of the total is tax-deductible as a donation to our work as a 501 (c)(3) non profit. It is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Order a United States Kit Below:

Order a Canadian Kit Below:

The Bee SmartSchool Garden Kit Includes:

  • Pre- and post-tests
  • 10 lesson plans with accompanying reproducible worksheets
  • Materials for lesson plan activities
  • Reproducible handouts
  • New bee test tube
  • Access to additional Bee Smart™ School Garden Kit materials here. For a specific list of materials, click here.
    Kit contents are subject to change based on current curriculum and available materials.

The kit with digital curriculum includes everything above except for the printed curriculum. Instead you will receive the lesson plans on a USB drive.

Fun

Discover fun ways kids can learn about the importance of pollinators!

Answer Keys

Gardens

The Student Team

Students should participate in all aspects of the garden. They will gain a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and ownership of the garden by being part of the maintenance effort. Group students in pairs or threes and assign each team a specific task. This kind of team focus should be organized before leaving the classroom for a garden visit. Teams can each be doing jobs such as “Pollinator Observation,” “Harvesting” “Watering,” and “Unintended Plant Removal (weeding),” etc.

The Garden Coordinator

Ideally, the Garden Coordinator will be a paid position (if your school’s budget can afford it), or it can be a voluntary part of a staff position or an interested caregiver. Whoever it is, the Garden Coordinator plays a key role in successful school gardens. This is the person who either recruits volunteers or arranges for garden preparation, plant, soil and seed delivery, planting days, maintenance schedule, and harvest.

The characteristics most critical for this position are that the person be well-organized, friendly, willing to get dirty, and work hard. Sound like a tough role to fill? That actually depends on your school and your situation. Remember our maxim – start small and only grow as need demands. It is far better to have a small garden that is well used and starts building enthusiasm in the classroom than to have an overly ambitious project that exhausts your support team. Be sure to encourage conversations with your school’s landscape crew.

The Summer Team

As you work to establish your school’s new garden, don’t forget to ask for help before school lets out for the summer. Ask families to each sign up for a week of garden duty during the summer. Most weeks, they will need to visit the garden once to check if anything has been disturbed in the garden by animal or man, if the irrigation is working properly, and to harvest any produce that may have come in. If your garden is hand irrigated, families will need to stop by more frequently. Many families look forward to their garden week. Most do it in the early morning and enjoy their time together working with the plants. As the temperature dictates, watering in the morning and evening may be necessary.

Pesticide Education

What is a Pesticide? A pesticide is a substance used to control unwanted plants, insect pests, rodents, or plant diseases. Pesticides include herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and fungicides. Of the pesticides, we believe insecticides cause the greatest challenge to pollinators. However, using proper application practices when applying any pesticide is very important in keeping people safe, too!

Children and Pesticides Children are disproportionally affected by exposure to pesticides due to their rapid metabolism rate and high hand-to-mouth contact. Children often play in and around areas with pests and treated with pesticides, such as playgrounds and gardens. Integrated Pest Management Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a collection of pest control practices that uses a suite of tools and reduces dependence on pesticides. IPM principles and practices can be applied both inside school buildings and throughout school grounds. IPM includes regular monitoring for early pest detection, taking action against pests only when necessary, choosing the most effective option with the least amount of risk, and applying biological principles to create lasting solutions.

IPM in School Gardens Using the IPM guiding principles of knowledge, monitoring, least-toxic options, and continuous improvement, schools often save money and improve health by employing a few of the example IPM solutions below to keep pollinators and people safe:

  • Where possible, avoid pest problems in the first place by burying infested plant residues, removing pest habitat, and planting disease and pest-resistant plant varieties.
  • Carefully diagnose your pest problem, and, before you apply a pesticide, make sure the pest population has reached a level where control is necessary.
  • Carefully evaluate your pest control options, and use a combination of pest control techniques if appropriate – these may include beneficial insects, manual removal, traps, a pesticide, etc.
  • Plant native flowering plant species to support pollinators, choosing species that are naturally resistant to insect pests.
  • Many native pollinators such as bumble bees live in natural areas and also play an essential role in pollination. Be especially careful when trying to control pests in or near these areas. All butterflies start life as caterpillars, feeding on plants. Learn what type of insect is eating your plants before you inadvertently kill butterflies and other beautiful and beneficial insects.

While the steps above can reduce student and staff exposure to toxic agents, the best way to ensure that the school grounds are healthy is through the IPM Start Certification process.

IPM Star Certification for Schools IPM improves pest management results and reduces liability and risks from both pests and pesticides. IPM STAR certification is a voluntary process that establishes your school’s commitment to health and safety.

By working towards and achieving IPM Certification, your school will:

  • Establish a formal IPM program
  • Receive feedback from an IPM professional;
  • Build a professional image and create goodwill; and
  • Create long-term, sustainable focus on pest and pesticide risk reduction, ensuring that your school continues to improve.

For more information about pesticide safety, visit the IPM Star Program website (http://www.ipminstitute.org/ipmstar.htm)

Bee Sting Information How to Avoid Getting Stung

  • Avoid wearing brightly colored or patterned clothing
  • Avoid walking barefoot
  • Avoid perfume or cologne when heading to a heavy bee area
  • Avoid sudden movements
  • Avoid leaving food goods, especially sweets, exposed

If You Get Stung Most allergic reactions to bee stings include pain, and red swelling around the sting. Other common reactions include hives, nausea, dizziness, and a tight feeling in the throat. If these symptoms occur, the person needs medical attention immediately.

Resources

Educators

The Bee Smart™ School Garden Kit is a great tool to teach your students about the importance of pollinators and how they are connected to our food and environment!

For Educators Using the Bee Smart™ School Garden Kit

  • Upload Your Pre- and Post – Assessment Results Here Tally the total number of correct and incorrect questions answered on the BeeSmart™ School Garden Kit pre-assessment. We will ask that you do this again at the end of the Bee Smart™ School Garden Kit curriculum with the post-assessment. We will use this data to assess the effectiveness of the Kit on teaching your students about pollinators. Once you inputted both your students’ pre- and post-assessment answers, you can be eligible to receive a gift from our partner, Burt’s Bees, upon completing the pollinator curriculum.
  • Share Your Pollinator Stories and Photographs from your Bee Smart™ School Garden Kit Experience with [email protected]

Additional Useful Resources

    • Nature’s Partners: A Comprehensive Pollinator Curriculum for Grades 3-6
    • Pollinator Partnership’s Pollinator Gardening Curriculum
    • The Great Pollinator Partnership lesson ideas
    • National Academies Resources on Pollinators
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
    • Pollinator Live – Find a series of live interactive webcasts, satellite field trips, and web seminars about pollinators, gardening, and conservation. PollinatorLIVE is geared to grades 4 to 8.
    • Discovery Education Pollination Idea- Butterflies Lesson Plans and Plant Pollination Lesson Plans
    • Monarch Butterfly Conservation Talking Points
    • Powerpoint Presentations for Teaching from Michigan State UniversityAttracting Beneficial Insects with Native Flowering Plants

Refill your Kit:

The bees and the Pollinator Partnership team greatly appreciate your efforts to foster students through this exciting discovery process. In order to continue exposing students to pollinator-related topics in a hands-on manner, you will need to supplement your existing Bee Smart™ School Garden Kit curriculum with refill materials. Although the curriculum is copyrighted, do not hesitate to share it with other educators at your institution. Please have them order a refill kit to supplement the curriculum. The refill contents include:

  • 3 glitter jars
  • 100 pipe-cleaners
  • 1 Bee Tube Nest
  • 30 small paper cups
  • 1 educator’s dissection seed
  • 30 peat pods
  • 30 cucumber seeds
  • 30 wooden plant makers
  • 15 milkweed seeds specific to your ecoregion
  • 30 prairie coneflower seeds
  • 30 purple coneflower seeds
  • 3 cotton swabs
  • Access to the Bee Smart™ School Garden Kit online component

Order a refill for your kit by donation of $50 USD / $65 CAD below:

Order a US Kit Refill Below:

Order a Canadian Kit Refill Below:

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