Integrating Sustainable Agriculture with K-12 Curriculum through School Garden/Orchards: a Pre-Service Teacher Training

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2012: $9,987.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota Duluth
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Cindy Hale
University of Minnesota Duluth

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes, sunflower
  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), berries (other), berries (strawberries), cherries, melons
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, celery, cucurbits, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, wildlife
  • Pest Management: botanical pesticides, prevention, row covers (for pests)
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, partnerships, social capital, sustainability measures, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Teachers play the important role in our society of educators of the next generation. This project, titled “Integrating Sustainable Agriculture with K-12 Curriculum through School Garden/Orchards: A Pre-Service Teacher Training,” will educate pre-service teachers sustainable agriculture principles and skills using school gardens/orchards. Through experiential learning, pre-service teachers will develop the necessary skills to educate future generations about the benefits of and supporting the development of sustainable agriculture food systems. This pilot project will take place in two phases. During the first phase pre-service teachers will participate in a three-day workshop. The training will include visits to local farms and opportunities for hands-on exploration of sustainable agriculture practices. Pre-service teachers will also have the opportunity to develop a plan for implementing sustainable agriculture to their own lesson plans and curricula. The second phase of this project will take place during a student teaching experience. Pre-service teachers will be placed in a mentor relationship with experienced teachers who can model the use of the school gardens and explore strategies for integrating sustainable agriculture practices in the K-12 curricula. Pre-service teachers will be documenting their learning and accomplishments through ePortfolio, an online professional development program. Project effectiveness and learning by pre-service teachers’ will be accessed through reflective components of ePortfolio. Further, the obstacles and opportunities for successful integration of sustainably designed and managed school gardens/orchards into K- 12 student curriculum will be identified, and the project modified to ensure future viability.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Project Outcomes. This project will create an opportunity for K-12 teachers to start their careers using sustainable agriculture practices as a teaching method through school gardens/orchards, setting the stage for systemic changes in the ways K-12 students, teachers, and parents view sustainable agriculture. Project participants will define and identify sustainable agricultural practices compared to conventional practices. They will understand that sustainable agriculture practices can increase the quality of food produced, food security for their communities and improve the ecological systems upon which sustainable living is based. Experiences with local farmers, and the integration of sustainable agricultural practices in their school garden/orchard curricula will increase K-12 students, teachers and parents knowledge of and access to sustainable farmers and farm products. This cycle of education will likely improve economic viability, enhancing the quality of life for farmers/ranchers, rural and urban communities, and society as a whole. Students will gain the skills, knowledge, and understanding that will lead them to seek out sustainability in their daily choices including growing their own food, buying from local farmers, and pursuing sustainable farming as a career.

    Short-term outcomes of this training include changes in the knowledge, awareness, skills and attitudes of pre-service teachers. Project participants will:
    • Gain experiential understanding of the concept of sustainability (the balance between environment, society and the economy).
    • Apply their understanding of sustainability through a real-life sustainable agriculture experience; highlight the definition of sustainable agriculture (SARE 2010).

    Intermediate outcomes include changes in pre-service teachers’ behavior and practices by: • Learning to use a school garden/orchard to integrate teaching of sustainable agriculture concepts and practices with student learning in math, science, and other subjects.
    • Using school gardens/orchards to engage K-12 student in active learning about the
    ecological principles, knowledge, and skills related to specific sustainable agriculture practices (i.e. holistic planning, organics, IPM and beneficial insects, soil and water quality improvement, crop/landscape diversity, proactive weed control, etc.).

    Long-term outcomes of training pre-service teachers in sustainable agriculture school gardens/orchards as a vehicle to actively engage students are expected to include:
    • Successful and ongoing education of K-12 students through the use of sustainable agriculture concepts and skills integrated with the main subject areas.
    • Teachers, students, and the community will increase their understanding of the importance of sustainable agriculture to their personal and their communities’ health.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.