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Planning a Successful School & Community Garden Program

Plan, organize and develop a successful and sustainable gardening program.

Planning a Successful School & Community Garden Program is one of nine online courses we offer in our Horticulture Distance Learning Program.

Next course: TBD

  • Cost: $675. (CCE staff: Email dmc72 [at] cornell.edu (dmc72[at]cornell[dot]edu) for discount information.)
  • Enrollment limited to 30 students.
  • See course details below.
  • To be notified of next course, fill out this form.
  • Questions about the course? View FAQ, then email dmc72 [at] cornell.edu (dmc72[at]cornell[dot]edu)
  • Registration details and refund policy

About the course

This 6-week course (8 weeks including the introductory week and a break week) focuses on the foundations and benefits of garden-based learning, and provides the tools, resources, and collaborative support needed to plan, organize and develop a successful and sustainable gardening program that fits your organization’s needs.

Using a logic model approach to program development, this course is perfect for educators, program staff, volunteers, volunteer coordinators or anyone wanting to develop a community garden, school garden, or garden-based learning program for youth, adults, or people with disabilities in their local community, school, Cooperative Extension, or after-school program.

The course is non-credit, and we present a certificate of completion to all those who participate in the whole course. 

Course schedule

  • Week 1: Growing Your Planning Team; Community Partnerships
  • Week 2: Developing Garden Program Goals Using Logic Models
  • Week 3: Tapping Your Community Resources
  • Week 4: Evaluation and Assessment; Building Your Curriculum Toolbox
  • Week 5: Creating Sustainable Gardens; Finding Funding
  • Week 6: Project Portfolio; Next Steps

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of this course, participants will:

  • understand the foundations of garden-based learning and its benefits
  • explore and identify available resources, case studies, research, and successful school and community-based garden programs
  • utilize logic models to identify program inputs, activities, and desired outcomes
  • use real world tools to practice and develop a garden-based learning program in alignment with program needs
  • build a toolbox of resources and portfolio of program planning, deliverables, and strategies for sustainability
  • utilize strategies to organize a community of volunteers and identify leadership
  • collaborate to build a community of learners and connect with others and utilize various forms of technology for teaching and learning within a distance-learning online course.

By the end of this course, you will become a more confident and knowledgable garden-based learning educator and program organizer, and will connect with and learn from others with the same purpose.

Approach and Philosophy

Our approach:

This course focuses on the foundations and program planning strategies of garden-based learning (GBL), and provides an opportunity to use real world tools to develop a GBL program. Through hands-on learning, participants will become more confident and knowledgeable garden-based educators, will connect with and learn from others with the same purpose, and leave with a toolbox of valuable tools and resources that are easily integrated into schools, youth, adult, or community programs.

Course Philosophy:

This course is designed to enrich the practice of community-based gardening in schools and communities, for children, youth and adult audiences, and to encourage a network of state and nation-wide educators, volunteers and communities who will learn and grow together.

My Philosophy as an Instructor

This is an online course that you are likely taking for your professional development as a Cooperative Extension educator, Master Gardener Volunteer, youth worker, classroom teacher, school administrator or school or community garden coordinator or volunteer. I hope you are intrinsically motivated to expand your knowledge and improve your practice by completing the readings, assignments and learning activities. I will assume that you have read the assigned readings, and I will not "test" you on content, because I do not believe that should be your motivation. My hope is that you will take full advantage of the discussions, which are designed in a way for you to collaborate and communicate with your colleagues freely and often, to learn from one another and explore techniques and strategies that will help you in your program development or professional practice.

Given the flexible nature of the distance learning environment, it is easy to fall behind and lose out on what could be a very valuable learning experience for you. Keeping yourself well organized and current with assignments will help you get the most out of this course. This course has been designed to be learner-centered, with due dates, deadlines and self-evaluation exercises put in place to help keep you on track, not as a means to penalize you. Stated simply, you will get from the course what you put into it.

Our communication will be positive and will focus on course content.  Rules of ‘Netiquette’ will be followed, therefore rude or offensive language and overly critical commentary will not be tolerated. It is a course taken for enrichment, and the way we communicate with one another will be positive, encouraging and constructive.

Donna Alese Cooke
dmc72 [at] cornell.edu (dmc72[at]cornell[dot]edu)