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Living Labs: School Gardens

About Living Labs: School Gardens

School gardens can come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the school site, available resources and the needs of the students. A school garden can attract butterflies, be a wildlife habitat, grow organic vegetables or showcase native plants. A school garden can consist of edible plants in a container, colorful flowers, or a full vegetable garden.

Research shows that student involvement in garden activities can:

  • Boost academic performance
  • Improve social skills and behavior
  • Enhance nutritional preferences, and
  • Increase self-esteem.

A wide variety of curricula can be linked to school gardens, including science, math, cultural studies, art, social studies and more.

Creating School Gardens

Want to start or revitalize a school garden?

Butte County Master Gardeners have a lot of experience with school and community gardens. As part of our public outreach, we offer consulting services, free of charge, to any school in the County. We can also provide you and your students with workshops on all kinds of garden topics.

We provide on-site consultations for your project in both the short term and long term. We can help you plan strategies for most aspects of your garden, including:

  • Site selection & construction
  • Soil preparation (or refer you to a soil testing lab)
  • Plant selection & seasonal planting themes
  • Water management & irrigation systems
  • Plant propagation
  • Garden maintenance
  • Recycling & composting methods
  • Pest management
  • Garden-related student activities

Contact us to set up an appointment by calling the Butte County Master Gardener Program Office at 530-538-7201.


Here are some useful resources and organizations that provide a wealth of information and guidance on developing a school garden.


Gardens For Learning-Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden (PDF)
One of a series of free resources from the California School Garden Network

Plant a Seed, Watch It Grow—A Guide For School Gardens (Online hypertext book)
Master Gardener Association of San Diego County

Getting Started—A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms. (PDF)
Center for Ecoliteracy /Life Lab Science Program

A Child’s Garden of Standards, Linking School Gardens to California Education Standards grades 2-6  (PDF)
California Department of Education, 2002.


California School Garden Network

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

California Department of Education