By using gardens as living laboratories for exploration and experimentation.
improving health outcomes
By fostering a positive relationship between children and fresh fruits and vegetables.
getting students out and active
Spending active time outdoors improves student health and well being.
School Garden Project has served Lane County with direct education and garden support services since 2001. Educational services include both in-school and after-school, standards-based science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. Our support services include garden design and building assistance; access to tools and educational materials; teacher professional development opportunities; community workshops; and comprehensive, standards-based curriculum that brings science to life right on school grounds.
School Garden Project of Lane County was founded in 2001 by Emily Dietzman and Colby Eiermann. In the fall term of 2000, Colby Eiremann and Ann Bettman led a school garden focus team at the University of Oregon’s Urban Farm which formed connections with eight Eugene area schools interested in starting gardens. From January to March of 2001, Colby and Emily co-taught a School Garden Seminar for the University of Oregon Deptartment of Landscape Architecture. As part of the School Garden Seminars and the Urban Farm focus teams, University of Oregon students designed, and in some cases, constructed gardens in local schools. School Garden Project evolved as an organization to support the school gardens that had been started or planned during these classes. In the beginning, the boundaries between work done as part of a University of Oregon class and work done for School Garden Project were not clear and a lot of the work was credited to both School Garden Project and the University of Oregon Deptartment of Landscape Architecture. In 2001, School Garden Project worked with Meadowview and Goshen schools and the Churchill Community Garden (Churchill HS and Kennedy MS). In the fall of 2001, Colby and Emily led an Urban Farm focus team on school gardens. Before School Garden Project achieved its own non-profit status, it functioned under the umbrella of the Lane County Food Coalition (LCFC).
On Feb 7, 2002, School Garden Project filed Articles of Incorporation as a non-profit corporation in the state of Oregon. Emily Dietzman, Megan Kemple, Stephan Meyer, and Jen Anonia were the incorporators. In the spring of 2002, School Garden Project sent an email survey to all Lane County teachers asking about their school gardens and received replies from 70: Clear Lake Elementary, River Road Elementary, Madison Middle School, Village School, and Head Start of Lane County Gardens were started with School Garden Project’s support in the spring of 2002. In April 2002, School Garden Project published the first newsletter. In May 2002, the first Benefit Celebration was held at the UO Urban Farm. School Garden Project held a Harvest Festival at River Road Elementary School in October.
On March 27, 2003, School Garden Project was granted 501(c) (3) non-profit status by the IRS. By March, School Garden Project was working with South Eugene High School, Gilham Elementary School, Oakhill Elementary Schol, Walterville Elementary School, Outdoor High School, the North Eugene HS Greenhouse and the Eugene Waldorf School, in addition to those listed in 2001-2002. In May 2003, the second Benefit Celebration was held at the UO Urban Farm.
In 2004 we began working with Fox Hollow School. In May 2004, the third Benefit Celebration was held at the UO Urban Farm. In Sept 2004, School Garden Project held a School Garden Tour and Harvest Celebration at 5 school gardens and also shared a booth with LCFC at the Eugene Celebration. School Garden Project held its first donor campaign in November.
In February, School Garden Project produced a new School Brochure which clearly listed our services and introduced the concept of Member Schools (now known as Support Service Schools). In March, we had a display and gave a workshop at the Oregon Green School Summit. In April, we offered Member Schools (Support Service Schools) a chance to apply for donated garden store gift certificates and recruited 6 Schools. In April 2005, School Garden Project had a booth at the Eugene Earth Day Celebration and put out our 5th newsletter. We held our first McMenamin’s benefit at the East 19th Cafe and received our first large donation from a major donor. In May 2005, the fourth Benefit Celebration was held at the UO Urban Farm. In September, School Garden Project held a joint event with Slow Food Eugene at the Eastside School garden and the UO Urban Farm.
In January, SGP shared a booth with LCFC at the Good Earth Home show and put out our 7th newsletter and our new display board. We started maintaining a separate email list for volunteers and sending out regular notices of volunteer opportunities, which resulted in volunteers helping out on a regular basis. We began our annual business fundraising campaign. In February, School Garden Project built its own greenhouse at the FOOD For Lane County Youth Farm and started growing starts for school gardens. We held our second McMenamin’s benefit and awarded donated gift certificates to 2 Member Schools. In May 2006, the fifth Benefit Celebration was held at the UO Urban Farm. During this year, School Garden Project succeeded in getting school gardens included in the Eugene 4J District Wellness Policy. In June, we had a booth at the KLCC Garden Tour at the Eastside School Garden. In 2006 we served 13 Member Schools (Support Services), largely as a result of the thousands of plants grown in our greenhouse. We improved our Partner School gardens over the year by coordinating the construction of storage sheds at 2 gardens, new raised beds at 1 garden, weed control fabric at 2 gardens, irrigation systems at 3 gardens, and compost bins at 2 gardens.
In 2007 we added two new partner schools, Lorane Elementary and Applegate Elementary in the Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District. We also forged a new partnership with the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and OSU Extension – Nutrition Education Services to pilot a gardening/nutrition/farm program for the 5th and 6th graders at each school. In addition to those two new partner schools we continued serving Brattain, Clear Lake, Family/Chavez, Goshen, Ridgeline, River Road and Walterville Elementary schools. We also supported 17 Member Schools.
In 2008, we supported construction of new gardens at Applegate, Network Charter School, Harris/Eastside, Camp Creek and Fairfield. With two new AmeriCorps staff members, we were able to coordinate weekly (rather than bi-weekly) school visits. Program structure and lesson plans were codified, incorporating standards-based curriculum designed by board member and retired teacher Karen Wildish in 2007-2008. In the 2008-2009 school year, approximately 550 students from 30 classes participated in our educational programs.
During 2009, School Garden Project worked with 12 schools helping to provide education programs including Family School, Edison Elementary, Arts and Technology Academy, Cesar Chavez Elementary, Ridgeline Montessori, River Road Elementary, Parker Elementary, Lorane, Applegate, Goshen and Brattain schools. We also supported an additional 31 schools through our Support Services Program by providing seeds and starts as well as garden consultation.
During 2010, School Garden Project partnered with Oregon Green Schools, Partners for Sustainable Schools and the City of Eugene as a part of a Composting Grant Program. 10 schools received grants as well as direct support from School Garden Project staff in building and setting up on-site cafeteria composting. Our first written curriculum also appeared in our archives during 2010. We served 16 schools including Adams, Applegate, Arts and Technology Academy, Brattain, Camas Ridge, Cesar Chavez, Clear Lake, Creslane, Danebo, Edison, Fairfield, Goshen, Lorane, Parker, River Road and Wlaterville.
With the support of Food Corps, our programs expanded into 4 schools with after-school garden clubs, while maintaining 8 in-school educational programs in 4 school districts including Adams, Applegate, Arts and Technology Academy, Cesar Chavez, Clear Lake, Family School, Fairfield, and Walterville Elementary Schools.
2012 brought exciting changes to our organization as we brought on new Executive Director John Moriarty along with new paid teaching staff. Through a partnership with Eugene School District 4J’s BEST Plus after-school program, we began offering STEM in the Garden education at 4 schools including Chavez Elementary, Howard Elementary, River Road Elementary and Kelly Middle School. We also maintained 4 after-school garden clubs in Eugene 4J schools as well as 9 in-school education programs throughout Lane County. During this time we also provided teacher workshops in STEM education through funding provided by the City of Eugene. 22 additional schools received Support Services including seeds, starts, garden consultations and grant connections.
During the 2013-2014 school year, 1,087 students received direct education through our programs. School Garden Project delivered 479 educational sessions with 1,683 student hours spent actively gardening. During 2013 School Garden Project also provided our first ‘Growing Success with School Gardens’ workshop series as well as led four ‘Beyond Gardening’ mini workshops to 61 area teachers which focused on using school gardens for math, literature, art and science. Our programs expanded to additional Springfield schools as we maintained 8 after-school programs including Garden Club and STEM in the Garden. During this year we continued to serve 11 schools through our in-school educational programs. 43 schools and educational institutions received Support Services with a total of 1,402 seed packets and 4,313 plant starts being distributed locally.
During the 2014 school year our programs served 1,237 students in 13 schools through in-school education. We provided 567 educational sessions with 1,702 hours spent actively gardening. This year, 32 organizations received Support Services with a total of 465 packets of seeds, 6,419 plant starts, and more than 45 hours of garden consultation delivered through the program. To help build community capacity for garden education, School Garden Project provided workshops, tours, and professional development to more than 125 parents, teachers, garden educators, and other members of the community, both locally and at the state level. Programs included methods for all teachers to use the school garden with their students, STEM curriculum development, composting, and summer garden care.
In the 2015-2016 school year, 1,288 students in 14 schools were served through our in-school education programs. This included 577 educational sessions, with a total of 10,304 kid hours spent active in the outdoor garden classroom. Our Support Services program reached 43 organizations. These organizations received 6,656 plant starts, 802 packets of seeds, 180 pounds of seed potatoes, and 15 pounds of cover crop seed. With support from the Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation, we focused our attention towards adapting curriculum and teaching approaches to better encompass equity, diversity, and inclusion. In addition, we partnered with a professor in the University of Oregon, College of Education and 12 teachers from five local school districts to form a Collaborative Professional Learning Community, in order to share our knowledge of outdoor learning, while learning from others with years of formal teaching experience.
Our programs continued to grow during the 2015-2016 school year! We directly served 1,396 students at 17 schools with our in-school education programs. 571 educational sessions were provided, with a total of 13,750 active kid hours in the outdoor classroom. Through the Support Services program, 8,970 plant starts and 713 seed packets were distributed to 38 member organizations, as well as support through resources and curriculum development. This year we expanded programming to pilot our middle school in-school program. In addition, we continued our focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion within our programming and shared our experiences with others through workshops and professional development opportunities.