Mastering Urban Agriculture:
Planning, Maintaining, and Teaching from the School Garden
“Mastering Urban Agriculture” is a free, fun, and practical professional development series for primary and secondary educators. A thriving program begun in 2011, the series covers garden planning, gardening techniques, and curriculum connections. It also addresses larger trends of nutrition and the role of edible landscapes in our communities. 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 once a month on Saturdays from August through May. Each class starts 9:00 AM and runs to noon. Parking is free.
How to Register
To be considered for participation in any of the classes, a one-time application must be completed. Applicants must be employed by a school serving students in the K-12 range. Once accepted, participants may register for individual classes via email to the course manager. Participants may choose to take all the classes or only those that best fit their needs. Classes are free to participants, and stipends are provided.
August 20, 2016
Planning for the Gardening Year
Working in the classroom and garden, you will learn about vegetable and herb selection and pairing, weeds to look out for, cover crops, and more. Which crops will come in fast? Which are poor bets? How should you prepare for fall rains? What happens at the end of the school year? And all this just in time for Southern California’s prime gardening season!
September 10, 2016
Soil Health and Composting
Composting is both a great lesson in recycling and also an excellent way to build healthy garden soil. This class is all about organic soil management. It will cover basic soil science including the roles of pH, soil texture and type and how that affects plants. The class will also cover different methods of composting, including vermicomposting. We will discuss compost bins and also how to compost without a bin and discuss what methods might work best at your school site.
October 15, 2016
Propagation, Pest Control, and Irrigation
This class will cover several exciting yet essential garden skills. Participants will learn how to make more of their favorite plants in a propagation workshop. Propagation is a great classroom activity, plants can be sold for garden fundraisers and it is fun and easy to do. The class will also cover basic irrigation to help keep your garden watered over school breaks or fitting a busy schedule. Waterwise, drought friendly strategies will also be discussed. Finally participants will learn ways to deal with common garden pests in ways that are kid friendly and environmentally sensitive.
November 12, 2016
Math and Science in the Garden
Learn how a school garden can enliven math and science lessons. From simple arithmetic to statistics, from observation to experimentation, there are numerous lessons that rely on the garden. Review curricula and discuss their application to your classroom as well as practicing a few in the garden.
December 10, 2016
The Laboratory and the Garden
Working with the teaching lab, this class will delve into the relationship between flowers and fruits, the difference between fruits and vegetables, and touch up on the living nature of what we grow and eat. We will use the microscopes to take a closer look at plants.
January 7, 2017
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.
February 11, 2017
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 11, 2017
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 8, 2017
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 13, 2017
Food Systems 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.