I am the School Garden Specialist at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in Washington, DC. My primary responsibility is to provide relevant training, technical support, and guidance to the 80 plus school garden programs in Washington DC. Here is an overview of the program that I oversee here in Washington DC:
What is the School Garden Program (SGP)?
The SGP was established through the D.C. Healthy Schools Act (2010) and is a component of the Nutrition Program team of the Division of Wellness and Nutrition Services at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. This program supports school gardens through coordinating efforts of governmental and community organizations to facilitate garden-based teacher trainings, provide technical support, administer competitive grant funding and to oversee the Green Ribbon School Program. The mission of the SGP is to establish gardens as integral components of public and public charter schools.
The SGP requires that your garden is registered before any services are provided. This is achieved by completing the web-based School Garden Snapshot. The purpose of the School Garden Snapshot is to collect vital information on your school’s garden program. The results of this snapshot will be used to establish clear communication with your garden program, and enable OSSE to provide relevant resources and opportunities to your garden program (including funding, training, and publicity for your garden). Registration takes about 5 minutes and can be done by visiting the following site: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/embeddedform?formkey=dF9ZQkVNSEZSTzFhZlRhUnlnUXZoQXc6MQ
School Garden Grants
The School Garden Program administers competitive grants annually. The purpose of this grant is to increase the capacity of DC school gardens as educational resources by providing institutional support to create meaningful learning experiences for students in school gardens. Grants are typically awarded in early spring. More information can be found here: http://osse.dc.gov/publication/dc-school-garden-program-rfa
The SGP is committed to ensuring that school gardens are functional learning environments that engage students in garden-based learning. Currently the SGP is able to provide to following types of support to registered schools:
• Horticultural Guidance (plant care, planting techniques, soil testing)
• Creating Structures (Trellis, signs, raised beds, outdoor classrooms)
• Modeling Garden Instruction (modeling a garden lesson with students, demonstrating student and teacher engagement techniques)
• Systems Designs (help with irrigation, composting, rain barrels)
• Program Management (Strategic planning, structured student involvement, using goods)
Once your school garden is registered, the point of contact will receive information on requesting technical support.
The School Garden Program provides comprehensive trainings and professional development opportunities for school staff and community members. Currently, the following trainings are offered:
• School Garden 101 and 201 training (introductory and intermediate course for new and existing school gardens).
• Growing Garden Teachers Trainings (One-year PD track for School Garden Grant recipients and select school garden coordinators). Teachers interested in participating must apply and commit to the fully year.
• Monthly Meetings (informal discussions and problem solving aimed at school garden coordinators).
Green Ribbon School Award
The SGP assists public, public charter and private schools in receiving certification as U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (GRS). The SGP facilitates GRS application trainings, provides ongoing support to interested schools, and nominates up to four schools to the U.S. Department of Education. For more information on Green Ribbon Schools, visit the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools website: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/index.html .