Grow Pittsburgh’s Flagship Schools are the foundation of our school garden programs. We are grateful for all that we have learned over the years and look forward to continued growth and collaboration with schools across the Pittsburgh region.
Grow Pittsburgh began its school garden programming in 2006 when we accepted both Pittsburgh Faison in Homewood and Pittsburgh Dilworth in Highland Park as Flagship partner schools. For two years (2006-2008), Grow Pittsburgh built up the program, creating garden infrastructure and curriculum to support successful edible education on these two sites. Pittsburgh Montessori in Friendship and Pittsburgh Colfax in Squirrel Hill joined the program as the 3rd and 4th Flagship schools in 2008. The subsequent 4 years were focused on strengthening our programs at each school and creating a series of lesson plans to be used on our sites and to be shared more broadly through our website. In 2012 we added two more schools, The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School in East Liberty and The Environmental Charter School in Regent Square, bringing the total to 6 Flagship Schools for a two year period. In 2014, administration and teachers at The Environmental Charter School began to take on more of the garden tasks and education themselves, making ECS the first Flagship School to move toward being independent. Today, we have four Flagship School sites (Faison, Dilworth, Colfax, and Montessori) where we run our garden and cooking programming.
Our Program Model
We believe that there are three main components to a successful school garden program:
1) Garden Maintenance: Ensure that the gardens are thriving so that the lessons can be taught and the produce can be consumed by our students. This work includes providing seeds and seedlings and overseeing the ongoing care of the garden.
2) In-School Education: During one trimester of the school year, all K-2 students receive a series of 12 weekly classes taught by a Grow Pittsburgh Garden Educator. All of our lessons follow the seasonal tasks that are done in the garden and are aligned with the PA State Science Standards. Fall classes focus on our senses, seasons, safety and the environment. Winter classes, taught inside, follow our Winter Cooking Curriculum, which aims to connect how the food we grow turns into the food we eat. Our Spring programming focuses on soil, plant life and ecosystems. During the summer, families of students and other members of the school-community are invited to help care for the garden in exchange for kid-grown produce.
3) Community Outreach: The value of our work in the garden must go beyond the classroom to reach the families and communities that surround the school. We host two community events per year which often include a family cooking night, a “chef in the garden” demonstration or a “wake up the garden” festival.