Garden Infrastructures & Systems



The physical infrastructure and systems of the Edible Schoolyard garden are designed to enable students to wander and use the space with confidence and freedom. 

Learning experiences in the garden are structured to encourage exploration and student-led discovery. Our garden teachers design lessons to provide opportunities for individual choice, open-ended investigations, risk, and curiosity.

How does a learning environment invite students to practice ownership and independence?   

School gardens of all sizes and stages can benefit from straightforward and intuitive systems that center student experience. We assembled the resources below to put the Edible Schoolyard's infrastructure and systems in context. We hope they inspire reflection and offer adaptable ideas for your own outdoor classroom. 



The Ramada stands at the heart of the garden. Every class opens and closes with the full group gathered in its circle. 

We learned over time that garden experiences are most enriching with a container. They always need a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

Ramada routines provide a reliable class structure that sets students up for success. It is clear what is expected of them and what they can expect from that day’s lesson. This consistency contributes to students' comfort in the outdoor classroom.

In the Ramada, students are held to the same behavioral expectations as in the classroom. We ask for their full engagement with and attention on the facilitator during the opening and closing circles. Outside of these times, students have more autonomy to move and explore.
Deciduous kiwis and annual vines climb up the Ramada’s sides and canopy over the top. Their leaves offer shade in the summer and provide a sense of enclosure and community within the larger garden space.
Like most structures in the garden, students helped design and build the original Ramada.
Our current Ramada is 20 feet in diameter. Benches around the circumference provide more than thirty seats – enough to comfortably fit an entire middle school class, their classroom teacher, the ESY garden team, and volunteers.



We created this collection of videos in 2015. Each one highlights the design and use of major structures in the Edible Schoolyard garden.



How students experience the garden is guided and supported by visual aids. These signs make the garden a more accessible place and are essential for teaching to a range of learning styles.

Providing opportunities for each student to read is also be a great way increasing the use of academic language in the garden. 

Whiteboards and chalkboards often hang in the Ramada, featuring the question of the day, words of the week, sentence structure, or conversation prompts.



The Edible Schoolyard emphasizes four main skills as the foundation for maintaining a healthy garden. Every class incorporates jobs that appeal to the diverse interests and energy levels of our students.

Garden teachers offer students a choice about what tasks they work on and what tools they use. Lessons are also designed to encourage students to make learning choices as they explore and apply topics in the garden. 

Giving students the opportunity to make choices establishes mutual trust, builds engagement, and develops students’ awareness of their interests and needs.


Propagation in the greenhouse.