School Gardens Give Minneapolis Students Hands-on Lessons in a Wide Range of Subjects

A scene from the garden at Kenwood Elementary School.

School gardens have become increasingly popular, and Minneapolis certainly isn’t immune to this education trend. There are 75 schools within the Minneapolis Public School District, and over 30 of them are home to a garden. Though they vary in size and purpose,they all provide fertile ground for lessons in myriad subject areas.

Anthony Middle School
When Anthony Middle School is in session, its 700-square-foot garden provides an ideal setting for learning about food science—from plant life cycles to proper garden maintenance to the safe harvest and distribution of produce. Throughout the summer, the Anthony School Garden is watered and maintained by groups of dedicated volunteers, including the staff from nearby Pizzeria Lola. The restaurant uses produce from the garden throughout those hot and humid months, ensuring it doesn’t go to waste. Teachers and Pizzeria Lola chefs are collaborating to offer ongoing specials featuring vegetables grown in the Anthony garden. Proceeds will come back to Anthony—the final stage in a new sort of plant life cycle.

Clara Barton Open School
The Barton Spirit Garden, launched in 2010, was the brainchild of three parents. Cared for by students, staff and families, it serves as a means of supporting the well-being of students and families, as well as the community at large. Several local nonprofit organizations, such as Midwest Food Connection, partner with the school to teach students the ins and outs of organic, sustainable agriculture and how to make healthy food choices.

Kenwood Elementary School
The Kenwood School Garden is truly a community endeavor. During the school year, it serves as an interactive outdoor classroom for Kenwood students as they learn about the natural world—planting flowers and vegetables and learning how to weed and care for growing plant life. Over the summer, families and community members ensure the garden stays watered and weeded as temperatures rise. Not only is the garden a beautiful  addition to the school’s campus, it’s a source of fresh vegetables for neighborhood families as well—everyone benefits from its bounty!

Lyndale Community School
The Lyndale Community School Garden was launched in 2008. At 2,400 square feet, it’s among the biggest gardens in the Minneapolis district. During the school year, rotating small groups of students spend their recess tending to the garden’s myriad vegetables, flowers and other assorted plants. Youth Farm, a local nonprofit, hosts numerous programs in Lyndale’s garden, developing students’ leadership skills through teaching them how to plant, grow, prepare and sell food.

Whittier International Elementary School
Just off the building of Whittier International Elementary is the Whittier Pollinator Garden, home to creatures great and small. Thanks to its wide variety of plants, the pollinator garden restores native habitats for bees, butterflies, birds and more. Part of a widespread effort to protect the pollinating animals that support our ecosystems and ensure the sustainability of natural resources, Whittier’s garden provides all sorts of wildlife with the nutrition and refuge they need, even in the middle of the city.