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Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth Toolkit

The Educational Toolkit was developed to provide 19-20 lessons over an 18-month period for interventions schools in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth, the People’s Garden School Garden Pilot Project Research Grant (USDA CN-CGP-11-0047). The lessons began in the early spring 2012, and extended through the next school year, ending in Spring 2013.

The Toolkit provided 10-11 lessons to be taught in 2012 between February and the end of the school year in weekly sessions, and nine lessons to be taught through the month from September 2012 – May/June 2013. Because classes in the Arkansas and Washington could begin gardening earlier in the year than Iowa and New York, it was suggested that they start in 2012 with the garden planning and planting lessons, and then cover the first few lessons later in the spring.

The Toolkit included information and safety guidelines to create, maintain and harvest gardens; store, use and sample garden produce; take the garden through the summer; build community capacity; and sustain and grow the program. In addition it provided tasting and snack suggestions and information on the use of produce in the school cafeterias.

Overview and Philosophy

Extension specialists in Nutrition, Youth Development and Horticulture from Cornell, Iowa State and Washington State Universities’ Cooperative Extension Service reviewed 17 (click here for details) curricula, numerous garden implementation resources and other materials to select appropriate resources for this project. Criteria used to select curricula for consideration included 1) experiential learning 2) age-appropriate nutrition, food, and gardening content and skills 3) research-based content and standards alignment, 4) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) area focus, 5) support for the school garden.


Sample Lessons and Additional Information

Evidence Base

Lessons were selected from ten curricula (click here for details) to meet the necessary topic areas for the two years. Permission from the original authors was sought for reproduction in the Educational Toolkit. Additional activities directly related to the garden were developed to enhance the lesson. Since each state has slightly different educational standards, a compendium of content standards and benchmarks compiled by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, a private nonprofit corporation was used as standards. During this grant period, the Common Core Standards were introduced and the USDA introduced MyPlate to replace MyPyramid. Some lessons may contain references to MyPyamid

Access Toolkit

Thank you for your interest in the Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth program.  We are making the Toolkit available free of charge, but we ask that register so we can learn who is using the program and how it is being used.   After completing this registration, you will receive an email with the password to access the Toolkit.

Completion of the registration also indicates that you agree to the terms and conditions for its use and agree to reply periodic email  inquiries to tell us how you’ve been using the  toolkit.

  • The elements of this Toolkit are to be used solely for educational purposes.
  • The User has no rights to sell, rent, encumber, transfer or convey this material.
  • In addition, the User agrees not to charge participants in any program using this Toolkit any more than is necessary to recover the User’s direct, marginal costs (such as materials, staffing, etc.) in conducting this educational program, or in training others to use it.
  • You will only share access to the toolkit with members of the organization you are registering use with.
  • You will NOT share access (password to the website, downloaded content, copies of materials, or any other access) to another organization – they must register for use.


This project was funded at least in part with Federal funds from the  U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The contents of this website do not  necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.  Project number CN-CGP-11-0047.


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Sample Lessons
Evidence Base
Accessing the Toolkit