School Garden Program

Trident United Way is pleased to announce a 2021 funding opportunity through our Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas grant, provided by the Duke Endowment, titled School Gardening for SC Educators.  This is a Clemson Extension program that combines horticulture training, ongoing technical support and equipment for schools to start and sustain successful school gardens. The program uses innovative approaches to overcome common school gardening obstacles such as poor soil, seasonality and food safety concerns specific to school gardening.

COVID-19  has altered our school systems and their ability to offer in-person learning opportunities. Good nutrition is more important now than ever as we understand the clear link between COVID hospitalizations and chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  School garden programs provide additional spaces for outdoor learning and instill a love for healthy eating in our children.  Lessons about healthy fruits and vegetables translate into healthier eating habits in the home. 

Program funding will be available for selected schools in the Tri-County who do not have a school garden. The program is being implemented through a partnership with the MUSC Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness and Clemson Extension in two parts:

First, Educators engage in a five-week online professional development course. Teams of three school faculty members are encouraged to participate together to build sustainability into the program. Licensed South Carolina teachers receive 20 renewal credits approved by the South Carolina Department of Education upon completion. 

After completing the online course, educators attend a one-day, hands-on workshop where they are introduced to statewide resources including 4-H Youth Development, South Carolina Farm to School and South Carolina Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom. Technical skills are emphasized, with educators doing hands-on activities such as irrigation system set up, worm composting and seed starting. Lessons from The Garden STEM curriculum are modeled for educators so they can confidently take them back to the classroom and engage students in the garden

Along with the training, Trident United Way is funding turn-key school garden kits as part of the school gardening training program. These kits are designed to equip educators with materials needed to establish a thriving school garden. All materials are delivered directly to the school.