This website was initially developed through collaboration between Learning Gate
Community School in Lutz, Florida and a team of researchers from the University
of South Florida in Tampa called the Tampa Bay School Gardening Research Group (Jennifer
Friedman, Laurel Graham, Elaine Howes, and Rebecca Zarger). Learning Gate is a K-8,
environmentally-themed public charter school. In 2005, when the school broke ground
for a large organic vegetable garden, teachers tried to learn as much as they could
about gardening and gardening pedagogy very quickly. They consulted a number of
local experts, books, and websites to collect information useful for creating a
successful organic garden and designing gardening activities for each grade of students.
Most often, the existing gardening curricula did not fit their needs exactly—sometimes
it was designed for a different ecosystem or climate, and sometimes it used chemical
fertilizers and pesticides that were off-limits for organic gardening. In those
cases, they designed their own exercises and activities appropriate for organic
gardening in central Florida’s ecosystems and climate.
Learning Gate teachers and the USF School Gardening Research Group thought it would
be useful to share what they have learned with other teachers and schools. Because
this way of teaching is so new and different for many teachers, teachers can really
benefit from a supportive community of fellow teachers who are willing to share
insights about what works and what doesn’t work in their own school gardening projects.
To establish a supportive community of teachers interested in school gardening,
Learning Gate hosted a workshop in March 2008 where 30 local teachers learned more
about school gardening. The teachers at this school gardening workshop formed the
basis of the original network. Through the discussion board feature of this website,
we hope that the network will branch out to include many more teachers representing
schools from throughout central Florida.