Department of Agriculture
Supporting Arkansas farmers and ranchers while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of Arkansas, the nation, and across the globe
School gardens are living laboratories that create teaching opportunities for nutrition, agriculture, and experiential education across all disciplines. School gardens can be an indoor herb garden in a windowsill of a classroom, outdoor raised beds, in-ground farms, or even a greenhouse. These gardens help children discover where food comes from and develop healthy eating habits. Further, research shows that when a student plants a seed, they are more likely to taste and try the food when it is ready to harvest resulting in greater acceptance of fruits and vegetables.
The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program (Program) manages two programs for school gardens: the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and the Arkansas School Garden of the Year Contest. Both school garden programs offer grant or contest funding to early care and education facilities, K-12 schools, and alternative learning environments.
The Program is excited to provide school garden specific resources to help schools achieve their best school garden. Also, below is a map of school gardens in Arkansas. There are over 300 across the state at K-12 public and private schools, early care and education facilities, and alternative learning environments. For additional help and support in school garden development, you may contact Erica Benoit, State School Garden Manager at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, firstname.lastname@example.org, (501) 295-8856.
Starting a School Garden
In this Arkansas Farm to School Network Conversation from February 2020, Luke Freeman with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), shares details such as choosing a garden location, type of garden, planting calendar, seed vs. transplant, and spring/summer crop planning.
Food Safety in the School Garden
In this Arkansas Farm to School Network Conversation from April 2020, Julia Fryer with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Local, Regional, & Safe Foods Team discusses produce safety as it relates to worker health, soil, wildlife, water, and post-harvest handling.
Summer Garden Success
In this Arkansas Farm to School Network Conversation from March 2020, Kristin Taylor with Forest Park Elementary, Amanda Krell with Carolyn Lewis Elementary, Shannon Smith with Marshall Elementary, and Destiny Schlinker with FoodCorps Arkansas share their summer garden successes that highlight partnerships with the community.
Successful School Garden Programs
In this Arkansas Farm to School Network Conversation from January 2021, Shannon Newerth-Henson with Kiddie Kollege Alma, and Amanda Krell and Brooke Long with Carolyn Lewis Elementary share what makes their school garden programs successful. Both schools were winners of the 2020 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest.