August 2016

GreenFutures – Green Schools Blog

Starting a School Garden: PHS Gardening Workshop at Northeast High School (1601 Cottman Avenue)

In June 2016, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) hosted a gardening workshop at Northeast High School called, “Green City Teachers: How to Build a School Garden.” The goal of the workshop was to teach participants about how to start a sustainable school garden.  Attendees learned how to create a “garden proposal” to present to their schools’ principals for consideration.  Also, included in the workshop were hands-on outdoor gardening experiences that included how to build a raised bed garden.  Inside, teachers learned about setting a gardening curriculum that fits into common core education.  The “Green City Teachers” workshop is a great way to get an in depth and personal training that even provides ACT 48 credits for teachers.      

Questions to think about before starting a school garden:

What is the purpose of the garden?

Tie it into curriculum.  The garden can be used to teach students about growing plants and agriculture, not just as an aesthetic piece. Try to fit gardening into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and even other curriculum!

Where is the funding coming from?  

There must be a sustainable source of funding to maintain the garden.  You’ll have to purchase things such as shovels, soil, seeds, bulbs, plants, plywood, gloves and other tools to maintain the garden. Try fundraisers and applying for small grants at GreenFutures website at www.philasd/greenfutures (coming soon).

Who owns the land? Does the school own the land or is it shared?

Make sure that your school owns the land or, if not, make sure that you have an agreement with the owner of the land.  It may be helpful to work with a community garden group because there is help with the upkeep.

Who is going to maintain the garden in the summer and during the school year?

Teachers, students, and community members can join the gardening team so that every month, every season and every weather condition is covered.  This will prevent garden overgrowth or the loss of plants that need regular attention.

Quick “How to” Guide:  Start a Garden with Unused Outdoor Space

GreenFutures, the District’s sustainability plan will highlight school gardening programs in its

annual report. This will include how gardens are maintained during the summer when school is not in session. One of the aims of GreenFutures is to share inspirational stories about how all schools can have school gardens.

For more information about “Green City Teachers,” visit PHS at 

Many thanks to Sally McCabe, Associate Director, Community Education, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Photos from Northeast High School - PHS School Gardening Workshop - June 2016

NEHS school garden 1.pngNEHS school garden2.png

Author and Photographer: Amanda Mack, West Chester University Student, Ecology Major

Summer Intern with the School District of Philadelphia - GreenFutures

Questions or ideas for the next blog?  Email