Getting Your Green Thumb:
Planning, Maintaining, and Teaching from the School Garden
“Getting Your Green Thumb” is a free, fun, and practical professional development series for primary and secondary educators. Classes in this third year of the course cover garden planning, gardening techniques, and curriculum connections. Each class will be led by Lora Hall from Full Circle Gardening, and use The Ranch, the Huntington’s urban agriculture research station as a field site. Classes include classroom instruction, hands-on activities, practice in an outdoor garden space, and free materials. We welcome beginning gardeners as well as those who are looking to take their next gardening step. Participants may choose to take all of the classes, or select the only those that best fit their needs.
All classes take place at The Huntington on Saturdays. Classes start at 9 a.m. and end at noon. Parking is free. The registration deadline is one week before the class date although advance acceptance into the series is preferable.
Planning Your School GardenOct. 20: Computer Classroom
If you're just starting a school garden or have a garden area in need of revitalization, this class is for you. Using information you gather ahead of time from your site, we’ll analyze climate, sun exposure, soil fertility and drainage as well as take a look at facilities, resources, and staff and volunteer management. We’ll also talk about setting goals for your garden program. At the end of the class, you'll be ready to lead your students in breaking ground on a new garden. (Participants should bring a rough sketch of their potential garden site to class.)
Planting for FallOct. 27: Teaching Greenhouse
Working in the classroom and garden, you'll learn about vegetable and herb selection and pairing, weeds to look out for, cover crops, and more. Which crops will come in fast? Which crops are a poor bet? How should you prepare for fall rains? All this just in time for Southern California’s prime gardening season!
Teaching Math and Science in the GardenNov. 3: Computer Classroom
Learn how a school garden can enliven math and science lessons. From simple arithmetic to statistics, from observation to experimentation, there are numerous lessons that rely on the garden. Review curricula and discuss their application with your classroom, and practice a few in the garden.
Beginning Gardening TechniquesDec. 1: Teaching Greenhouse
Gain the basic knowledge to help get you started in your school garden. We'll start at the beginning, using outdoor garden space to learn by doing. We’ll cover tool use, soil preparation, and irrigation. We'll discuss plant selection for each season, and you’ll leave with seeds you've started.
Outdoor Classroom ManagementJan. 12: Teaching Greenhouse
Take part in a discussion of one of the trickier aspects of school gardening: managing students. What do you actually do with them? How do you manage them outdoors? Learn how to set rules and expectations in this stimulating setting. This will be a lively discussion drawing on the experience of participants as well as guidance from the instructor.
Intermediate Gardening TechniquesJan. 26: Computer Classroom
Learn how to make your school garden both beautiful and bountiful. First we'll discuss factors that affect plant growth such as temperature, day length, and soil quality, and apply that to what we see happening in the garden. Then we'll learn ways to incorporate flowers, perennials and other plants in and around the garden.
Planting for SpringFeb. 9: Teaching Greenhouse
Which plants will mature before the end of the school year? Which flowers will attract pollinators? Learn how to get the most out of your garden during spring.
Advanced Gardening TechniquesMarch 2: Computer Classroom
Learn techniques that address some of the greatest challenges in school gardens including pests, weeds, and watering. Become good at identifying some of the most common insect pests and weeds along with innovative ways to deal with them. You'll also examine ways to use water more wisely in the garden, how to handle summer heat, plan for garden care during school vacations, and more.
Building Healthy SoilsMarch 16: Teaching Greenhouse
Composting is both a great lesson in recycling and also an excellent way to build healthy garden soil. This class is covers organic soil science and management, including the roles of pH, soil texture and type, and its affect on plants. The class will also cover different methods of composting, including vermicomposting. We'll discuss compost bins, how to compost without bins, and what method will work best at your school site.
Teaching Gardens as Ecological SystemsApril 6: Computer Classroom
The garden serves as a model ecosystem. In a garden, students can observe how different parts of the system interact with, and affect one another. Teachers will learn about multidisciplinary curricula that encourages close observation of the natural world, and the thoughtful use of water, energy, and recycled and composted materials in gardening.
Teaching English Language Arts, Social Studies & History in the Garden April 20: Teaching Greenhouse
The way a garden can inspire students is amazing. Drawing on your school garden, learn how to engage students in writing, reading, and research. How about garden-based poetry? Why not write a research paper on the bug that ate your green beans? Taste the foods of the cultures you are studying. Review curricula and practice lessons in the garden.
Fruits of the GardenMay 4: Computer Classroom
Learn how to select, plant, and care for fruit trees, and include ideas for curriculum tie-ins. Learn about the history of various fruits, and how to select and care for trees in Southern California. We'll also talk about growing fruit tree in containers, their pests and diseases, and ways to connect this to a life sciences curriculum. Finally, we will eat some delicious fruit and talk about nutrition.
Planting for SummerMay 18: Teaching Greenhouse
As the school year winds down, you need to plan for your garden’s summer vacation. Discuss maintenance issues, how to create a support group for the garden, and even some things you might consider planting now for harvest later.
Seed SavingJune 1: Teaching Greenhouse
Seed saving and seed study are the perfect way to end the school year. Your winter and spring crops should be going to seed, so gathering them up gives everyone something to look forward to: planting home-grown seeds in the fall! Math, science, and language arts are all tied in to this sustainable practice.
Building Healthy Soils (repeated)June 15: Teaching Greenhouse
Composting is both a great lesson in recycling and also an excellent way
to build healthy garden soil. This class is covers organic soil science
and management, including the roles of pH, soil texture and type, and
its affect on plants. The class will also cover different methods of
composting, including vermicomposting. We'll discuss compost bins, how
to compost without bins, and what method will work best at your school
How to Register
To be considered for participation in any of the classes, a one-time application
must be completed. Once accepted, registration for individual classes may be done via email to the course coordinator
. Participants may choose to take all the classes or only those that best fit their needs. Class size is limited. Preference for registration will be given to teams of two or more educators from one school site. Registration deadline is one week prior to class start date unless otherwise noted.
Cost and Stipend
Classes are free. Participants will receive a $100 stipend for every three classes completed.