About this project
Over the last seven years the Garden School Foundation has worked with teachers, students and parents to build a daily program of garden-based education for elementary schools and we’re now raising the funds we need to turn this program into a book that can be shared with schools all over the city, and beyond!
The book will contain 120 fun and engaging lessons and recipes, using gardens and growing food to connect kids with the world around them. We need to raise $25k for the design and layout of the book, which will also be made available on our website. We get asked all the time how others can re-create our program at other schools and we can’t wait for the day when we can help make that a reality by having this incredible resource at hand.
Each k-5 class at the 24th Street School comes out to the garden every other week for an hour-long class on anything from Science and Math to Cooking and nutrition. On any given day the garden sees between 3-5 classes being taught! They grow, tend and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables year-round, using the produce for cooking classes or for various experiments. The lessons we’ve developed are all standards-based, meaning that they teach the same material in the classrooms as required by the CA State Department of Education. But out here in the garden children learn for themselves why the world works the way it does, rather than having to memorize abstract facts and figures that have no relevance in their lives.
Over the years we’ve seen some pretty incredible things happen in this garden – kids eating green kale smoothies they made by pedaling a bicycle-powered blender; or mouthfuls of kale chips they made in the solar oven; strawberry and spinach salads, even sushi and fresh pasta made by hand! They’ve written biographies about compost worms they’ve examined under a magnifying glass. Once we held a beauty pageant for all of the different citrus fruits growing in the garden.
With obesity rates staggeringly high and thousands of children in urban Los Angeles that have little to no access to nature, gardens hold great potential to make a difference in their lives. There’s huge pressures to perform well on standardized tests and very little time or resources to break out of the mould – school gardens are a really incredible way to let kids be kids, investigate, experiment, use their innate sense of curiosity and wonderment at the world to guide their learning.
Please help us create this book that has the potential to get thousands of kids out learning in the garden every day, and teachers excited about how easy it really is to use gardens as a teaching tool.
Thanks very much for watching this video and for helping turn years of work into something that can be replicated across Los Angeles, or even the country. Everything we’ve done up until now would have been impossible without our volunteers and supporters – it really is up to people like you to give kids a chance to grow food, connect with nature, and gain the tools to make healthy choices. With your support right now we’ll very soon be able to share our work in a meaningful and impactful way.
Our wonderful supporters will be rewarded with various and sundry gifts from the garden made by the students, from lavender aromatherapy dream bundles to special heirloom varieties of sweet pea seeds that we’ve discovered grow well in hard, clay soil. Beautiful GSF bags are also on offer, as are recipe booklets and composting manuals. Even though the recipes are geared for kids adults love them, too, and everyone who donates will receive a collection of our best ones! Furthermore, every donor will receive an email with a link to the final GSF curriculum upon its completion so that you can see what you've helped to build.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge is partnering with the right designer so that the curriculum is laid out in a way that makes it easy to understand and eminently feasible to implement. Many curricula already out there are confusing and difficult to navigate, something we want to avoid. Part of the reason that we're raising this amount of money is so that we can hire the best person for the job. We rely a huge amount on volunteers to run the program, doing everything from helping with PR and Marketing and curriculum development to teaching and maintaining the gardens. For this project, however, we want the end result to be perfect and to happen quickly - something we can't be 100% sure of when working around volunteer's schedules and work commitments, no matter how wonderful and talented our volunteers are.
Once funded, we'll collect bids from a group of designers we've already identified through our current network and work with our team to choose the best one. This designer will also be responsible for creating illustrations to go along with the lessons, and will need to have great passion for the subject matter.
Aside from that, this project is pretty straightforward. It is a huge project, no doubt, and highly ambitious, but the wonderful thing about where we are right now is that the hard part of building the actual lessons and recipes and putting them into a standardized format is already nearly finished. The design and layout phase is the very last phase of nearly 7 years of work - with your help we'll sail through the home stretch!
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Since the finished curriculum book is going to be over 400 pages, the quotes we've gotten for a full-rate designer run about $20k, plus $500 for the first run of hard copies, $1k for online set-up, and another $3,500 for other fringe costs and overages. We hardly ever pay full-price for anything (in fact, many professional services are 100% donated to the Garden School Foundation), and hope that we will find a way to bring down the final design cost, but we've budgeted the full cost so that, once funded, we are 100% sure that we'll be able to get the project done fast, and get it done right.