Youth Grow

Garden-Based Education

Youth Grow programs develop sustainable garden education programs that connect kids to nature, inspire a love of eating fresh-grown food, and provide interdisciplinary learning opportunities. Using the garden programs, create a pathway for increasing family engagement with the school community with a focus on Latino families. Our programs improve nutrition and decrease the risk of food insecurity by teaching low income children lessons in where food comes from, the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and how to grow food through fun hands-on activities.

School Partnerships

Growing Gardens’ Youth Grow programs provide a unique, multi-year partnership at elementary schools where at least 70% of the students are eligible for free/reduced price meals — ensuring that we reach those most in need.

We have six core partner schools where we offer afterschool garden clubs, summer programs and the garden-based lessons during the school day. We are also partnered with a seventh school to fully integrate gardening into the school day curricula with a full-time garden educator.

Through our School Partnerships, Growing Gardens:

    1. jonah posesProvides after-school and summer food gardening programs through the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods Community School (SUN CS) program.
    2. Helps teachers utilize the garden as a learning tool during the school day.
    3. Supports a school garden committee so that parents, teachers and volunteers can sustain the garden program in the long term.
    4. Facilitate intercultural and inter-generational community building.
    5. Connects the garden to the cafeteria.

2015-2016 Youth Grow schools

Kelly Elementary/SUN CS (SE), Glenfair Elementary/SUN (NE),  Cesar Chavez K-8/SUN (N), Davis Elementary/SUN (SE), Arleta Elementary/SUN (SE), Lynchwood Elementary/SUN (SE), Abernathy Elementary (SE).

Professional Development Opportunities

Growing Gardens facilitates the Garden Education Professional Learning Community in coordination with Portland State University. Participating teachers will meet periodically during the winter and spring of 2016 to deepen their understanding and practice of garden-based education. Applications are being accepted until December 8, 2015. For more information, see the Garden Education PLC 2015 Description.

To support teachers, community members and parents to grow long-lasting edible school garden programs, Growing Gardens offers a 35-hour School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training to train school garden specialists. The next training is scheduled for June 20-24, 2016. To receive information as the training gets closer, sign up here.

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2014 Program Highlights 

  • 534 elementary aged students participated in after-school and summer Youth Grow garden clubs and camps for a total of 4,588 learning hours dedicated to hands-on food gardening activities.
  • A total of 2,705 garden-based learning hours during the school day; 35 unique teachers were involved in this work.
  • 456 children and 931 adults participated in Family Oriented Workshops and special one- time events learning about healthy cooking, snacking and eating and food gardening.
  • Pre and post surveys show a 27% increase in the types of fruits and vegetables students like to eat after participating in an 8 week Youth Grow club.
    • 33 volunteers assisted with after-school Youth Grow clubs and garden camps. These volunteers contributed 750 hours working directly with Youth Grow students (a value of $15,750).
    • 25 Garden Tender volunteers contributed 125 hours of school garden summer maintenance (a value of $2,625).
    • 229 pounds of school grown food was harvested and served in school cafeterias involving students from 35 classrooms.
    • 34 people graduated from our School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training in 2014, receiving 30 hours of training.

Youth Grow in the News

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“I can’t wait to go to Garden Club and eat more kale!” – Garden Club student

Healthy Habits Take Root” showcases the PPS Nutrition Services Farm to School Program in action at Lent Elementary. Students experience hands-on garden lessons, farm field trips and Harvest of the Month cafeteria promotions through partnerships with Growing Gardens, Zenger Farm and the Oregon State University Extension SNAP-Ed Program.

Watch the Gardening in Schools segment on AM Northwest KATU News featuring Youth Grow!

Supporting Garden Education in Our Community

    • To help meet the growing demand for resources & information about school gardens we offer a School Gardens page with helpful resources;
    • To support Portland Public Schools Nutrition Services incorporate fresh, locally grown produce in their cafeterias, we encourage people to engage in their Harvest of the Month program;
    • To support farm & garden educators in our greater community, we coordinate the Portland Farm and Garden Educators Network (PFGEN) which aims to connect educators, volunteers, youth, families and community members who support healthy food culture, wellness and Portland-area food security through sustainable food and agriculture education;
    • To encourage families to grow together, we offer Family Oriented Gardening Workshops. These workshops are designed to spark interest in children aged 6 to 12 in gardening, and provide fun ways for parents (grandparents, guardians, aunts/uncles, friends) and children to grow gardens together. Workshops topics include: Planning a Dinner Garden, Bugs & Insects, Sensational Gardens, Wondrous Worms, and Munch and Crunch see LEARN & GROW

Harvest at Lent 130Volunteer Opportunities:
Caring adults enrich and enhance our Youth Grow garden clubs and summer garden camps! If you are interested in working with elementary aged children and can commit to volunteering 2 hours once a week for 6-10 weeks, fill out the  Youth Grow Volunteer application form. Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, for more information.

Seasonal volunteer educator trainings are held 3 times per year. No gardening experience is necessary. All volunteers are subject to a background check.