Getting Your Green Thumb:

Planning, Maintaining, and Teaching from the School Garden



“Getting Your Green Thumb” is a free, fun, and practical professional development series for primary and secondary educators. Now in its fourth year, the series covers garden planning, gardening techniques, and curriculum connections. Lessons draw on the Ranch, the Huntington’s urban agriculture research station. Classes include lecture, discussion, hands-on activities, gardening practice and demos on the Ranch, and free materials.

We welcome beginning gardeners as well as those who are looking to take their next gardening step. Participants can choose to take all of the classes or can select the ones that best fit their needs. Teams of educators are encouraged to attend together.

All classes take place at the Huntington on the second Saturday of the month (except May, which is the third Saturday). Each class starts 9:00 AM and runs to noon. Parking is free. The registration deadline is one week before the class date although advance acceptance into the series is preferable.


How to Register




Jan 10, 2015, Teaching Greenhouse

Fruit: The Gateway Produce

Fruit is a sweet addition to a school garden. Students love eating fruit and berry bushes and fruit trees can produce for many years. Learn how to select, plant, and care for fruit trees. We will start out learning about the history of various fruits, then move on to how to select and care for trees in Southern California. We will also talk about growing fruit trees in containers, their pests and diseases, and ways to connect this to a life sciences curriculum. Finally, we will eat some delicious fruit and talk about nutrition.



Feb 7, 2015, Teaching Greenhouse

Planting for Spring

Which plants will mature before the end of the school year? When do you plant the tomatoes? Seeds or transplants? Learn how to get the most out of your garden during spring. This class will cover all the basics on starting a vegetable garden. We’ll look at local climate and what kind of vegetables to plant in early, mid and late spring and why. There will be tips on planting with younger children and the easiest plants to grow for busy teachers. An essential class for beginning gardeners.



March 7, 2015, Botanical Auditorium

Garden Ecosystems

The garden serves as a model ecosystem and a fantastic tool for teaching abstract concepts such as systems and interdependence. In a garden, students can observe how different parts of the system interact with and affect one another. In this class teachers will learn about multidisciplinary curricula that encourage close observation of the natural world, and the thoughtful use of water, energy, and recycled and composted materials. This class will also include ideas for creating a habitat garden that invites birds and butterflies and engages students.



April 11, 2015, Teaching Greenhouse

Seed Saving

Seed saving is a perfect way to end the school year. Your winter and spring crops should be going to seed so gathering them up gives everyone something to look forward to: planting home-grown seeds in the fall! Saving seeds is also a great way to save money on garden expenses. Seed saving is a time honored practice and means of preserving both genetic and cultural diversity. Participants will learn a little bit about plant genetics and some simple methods for cleaning and storing seeds for future planting. We’ll discuss the easiest plants to save seeds from and how to use this in the classroom. Math, science, social studies and language arts are all tied in to this sustainable practice.



May 2, 2015, Botanical Auditorium

Food Systems, Nutrition, and Diversity

Where does our food come from? In this class we’ll trace the geographic origins of various food plants, learning not only where our food comes from but how it relates to culture and food traditions. We’ll discuss using gardens and food as tools to celebrate different cultures. Then the class will take on the challenge of more processed foods by reading nutrition and ingredient labels to investigate what may lurk within and how those ingredients got there. This class provides many connections to social studies curriculum through food, fun and multiculturalism with a small dose of nutrition education.



How to Register

To be considered for participation in any of the classes, a one-time application must be completed. Once accepted, registration for individual classes may be done via email to the course coordinator. Participants may choose to take all the classes or only those that best fit their needs. Class size is limited. Preference for registration will be given to teams of two or more educators from one school site. Registration deadline is one week prior to class start date unless otherwise noted.



Cost and Stipend

Classes are free. Participants will receive a $100 stipend for every three classes completed up to a maximum of nine classes.

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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