Explore our School Garden Academy
Welcome to the School Garden Academy, a free resource for educators and community members interested in school gardening. This course aims to: 1) Promote STEAM education and increase K-12 engagement in outdoor learning environments; 2) Empower teachers in all disciplines to use the school garden as a unique outdoor learning environment in their instruction; 3) Help school garden teams understand best practices for engaging students in garden-based learning and recognize the curriculum integration opportunities available in the garden. We appreciate your desire to participate in school gardening!
Check our work from the past year
Please read our School Garden Mentor Program 2022 Impact Report. Inside you will find loads of information about this important initiative, including highlighted partner schools, how gardens were utilized across the state, and plans for next school year.
Read the How-to Guide
Our A How-to Guide for Rhode Island School Gardens guide includes best practices in garden creation and management as well as examples of the myriad ways that a garden serves as a multi-disciplinary learning platform. It is an introductory guide designed to bring you into the garden to appreciate all that it has to offer you, your students and their families.
Check out the RI Planting Calendar
The Rhode Island Planting Calendar will help you make sense of the RI planting season and find crops that are planted and harvested in the spring and fall, during the school year! Check it out!
Learn in the Greenhouse
The United States Botanic Garden, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and City Blossoms recognized the emerging need for user-friendly guidance on operating these educational greenhouses and maximizing their potential. To that end, they have developed an introductory manual for educators wanting to better use new or existing greenhouses for programming. The Greenhouse Manual includes lesson plans as well as basic information on layout and operations of a greenhouse, growing plants (especially during the school year), growing from seed, seedling nutrition, identifying and treating disease and pest management in greenhouses, basic budgeting, and succession planting.
Find a Mentor
The Catherine Desourdy School Garden Mentor Program is a free service available to schools in southern New England. Schools are matched with a team of one- two certified URI Extension Master Gardener volunteers who have each completed additional training to qualify as a School Garden Mentor. Their mission is to assist your school in determining and reaching your school’s own gardening goals, to facilitate year-to-year gardening continuity and to be the on-going conduit for science-based gardening advice and the many free resources available to your school through URI Cooperative Extension. Requests for new school garden mentors are accepted July-November to allow for proper staffing and training.
Order Free Seeds
Each January, the URI Free Seed Program offers vegetable, flower and herb seeds for school groups free of charge. These seeds are donated from Ocean State Job Lot and distributed by URI Master Gardener volunteers to community groups. Sign up for our emails to receive the seed order form when it’s available each year.
Need an answer now?
The URI Gardening and Environmental Hotline is staffed by trained URI Master Gardeners who are available in person, by phone and via email to help you identify plants and troubleshoot problems in the garden. Snap a photo with your smartphone and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (401) 874-4836 to speak to someone directly. Need a free pH soil test? Pop in at the URI Mallon Outreach Center to see us during hotline hours (Monday – Thursday from 9AM – 2PM).
Learn Native Plants
Interested in incorporating butterfly, bird and wildlife gardens in your school garden space? The RI Native Plant Guide is an interactive online tool for gardeners to select plants and find where they’re available to purchase.
- Search: Over 350 species native to Rhode Island
- Create: Plant lists based on desired attributes (plants to attract butterflies, birds, pollinators) and site conditions
- Find: Where plants are available for purchase
Check out the Pollinator Atlas
Interested in learning more about Rhode Island Pollinators? The RI DEM has developed an excellent resource called The Rhode Island Pollinator Atlas. It contains guides, information about their current pollinator projects, and more. Check it out!