How Does Your Garden Grow? School Gardens Across America

How Does Your Garden Grow? School Gardens Across America
Michelle Obama: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: 2 days to 2 weeks


On April 9, 2009, Michelle Obama and 25 students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia planted the first seeds and seedlings in the new White House Kitchen Garden, designed to emphasize the creation of local gardens for healthy eating. The students also helped harvest some of the hundreds of pounds of produce that the garden has produced. This is not the first garden planted at the White House: Eleanor Roosevelt did the same thing during World War II, to set an example for the nation that  helped to feed the country in a time of war.


Students who participate in this lesson will learn about the history of the victory and community garden movements, and will consider the value of school gardens as they are being designed and spread across the nation.  Students may also consider initiating a school garden in their own school.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; access to word processing and printing resources; poster board and art supplies.


1. At the beginning, show the class the videos about the preparing and planting of the Kitchen Garden at the White House (see The Who Farm, below). Students can then watch and read about about the White House garden harvest in 2015, the 6th year of the garden’s existence..

2. Discuss with the class whether any students have had experience in growing vegetables and fruits in their backyards, or in a community garden.  Note the experiences, and ask what the students have learned from working in a garden.

3. Next, divide the class in three groups and ask each group to research one of the following:

  • Victory Gardens (beginning in World War II) [Victory Gardens and Reviving the Victory Garden, below]
  • Community Gardens [Community Gardens, below]
  • School Gardens [School Gardens, below]

4. Each group should give a brief report about their findings.

5. Then, ask each student to research school gardens on the last three websites below (The Edible School Yard, Search for a School Garden in Your Area, and the School Garden Wizard), with the idea of whether a garden might be started in their school.

6. Ask each student to write a one-page proposal for a school garden in his or her school.

7. Ask students to share their ideas and discuss with the class the pros and cons of having a school garden in their school, the produce of which would contribute to school lunches. Ask the students if such a garden would be useful, and how it might be accomplished.

8. Post the proposals around the room so everyone can read them.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be expanded through sharing the knowledge the students have acquired about school gardens with the rest of the school and, perhaps, engaging the rest of the school community, including parents, in a discussion of the possibilities.

Sources & Resources:


Waters, Alice. The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea. Chronicle Books, 2008.


Planting the White House Garden (with videos of the process). 

Harvest Time in the White House Garden (2015)

Victory Gardens

Revive the Victory Garden

Community Gardens

School Gardens

The Edible School Yard

Search for a School Garden in Your Area

School Garden Wizard



This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.