School Garden Q&A

How do you think growing plants in an EarthBox® can help test scores?
Studies show that science achievement of students who participate in garden-based learning was higher than that of students who only engaged in classroom curriculum (Smith and Motsenbocken 2005). Gardening can be difficult for teachers. However, EarthBox Instructional School Gardens make it easy. The revolutionary container eliminates the need to weed, hoe, and dig – making it incredibly easy to create a quality planting and instructional environment without a large time commitment. The correlated Pre-K-12th grade curricula lesson plans address the standards, list materials and stated measurable objectives. The kit's instructional brochure helps you decide what and how much to grow – making it as easy as 1-2-3: plant, instruct, harvest!

What does an instructor of an Early Learning group need to incorporate an EarthBox Instructional School Garden?
To implement an excellent garden program, an early learner instructor needs the Early Learners STEM-based package. Five of the six activities can be completed at any time of the year. The sixth activity, planting, growing and harvesting the Dwarf Sunspot Sunflower, requires 70 days of warm temperatures. The 70 day requirement may limit growing outdoors in certain USDA plant hardiness zones during school time. But, that is why there are grow lights!

What does an Elementary School instructor need to incorporate an EarthBox Instructional School Garden?
For an instructor in an elementary school, the Elementary School STEM-based package is an excellent choice. Many of the lessons will require the use of a grow light. The group activities in The STEM-based Garden Package complement the standards-based instruction and develop team-building, horticulture, marketing, nutrition and data collection skills with 29 fun-filled activities. The six required Ready to Grow kits produce an abundant amount of crops.

What does a Middle School instructor need to get started with EarthBox Instructional School Gardens?
An instructor in middle school can start with the Middle School STEM-based package. The package includes two Ready to Grow Kits required to perform experiments with a control and a variable kit. Many of the lessons will require the use of a grow light. The group activities in The STEM-based Garden Package complement the standards-based instruction and develop team-building, horticulture, marketing, nutrition and data collection skills with 29 fun-filled activities. The six required Ready to Grow kits produce an abundant amount of crops.

What does a High School instructor need to get started with EarthBox Instructional School Gardens?
The High School STEM-based Lab Garden is a high school instructor’s dream. The 12 inquiry-based labs place the responsibility of set up and analysis in the hands of the student. The kit includes three Ready to Grow Kits. You may want to purchase nine more Ready to Grow Kits classroom for a class of 24 to work in groups of 8. Then, when the weather is right, plant out the 12 Ready to Grow Kits in a garden using the Youth Garden Guide to support instruction.

How can an instructor effectively and efficiently connect standards-based instruction with activities from the Youth Garden Guide?
Sign up for the Education Newsletter to receive instructional plans that help teachers to effectively integrate classroom and garden instruction utilizing the correlated standards-based instruction and the Youth Garden Guide. You can find some instructional plan links on the Curricula and Guides pages of our website beneath the description of each curriculum and guide.

What light conditions are required to use EarthBox Education in the classroom?
To maximize the effectiveness of using EarthBox Education in the classroom, use a grow light.

How do the EarthBox® Instructional School Gardens develop 21st century skills?
EarthBox Instructional School Gardens advance the development of STEM-based skills, teach kids where their food comes from, fight obesity, facilitate healthy eating, and teach sustainable agriculture. Most importantly, the controlled environment facilitates the collection of valid and reliable data and the development of science skills addressed by the national and common core standards.

How does the EarthBox Curriculum reduce teacher prep time?
Detailed standards-based lesson plans with timed procedures and lists of materials reduce the time a teacher normally would need to develop garden-related lessons. Couple that with the low maintenance EarthBox system and garden instruction becomes as easy as 1, 2, 3: Plant, Instruct, Harvest.

How can an afterschool instructor implement a six week instructional school garden program?
The (29) forty-five minute stand-alone activities in the Youth Garden Guide can be taught at any time of the year. Therefore, an instructor can hand select the number and type of activities to cover based on the time-line and goals of a given program at any time of the year. For example, an after school instructor in a six week program focused on nutrition could grow out a 40 day spinach crop in one Ready to Grow Kit outdoors or indoors with a grow light in the winter). While the system does what it does best, that is grow out a high yield nutritious crop, the instructor can select activities focused on nutrition to further advance the program’s goals. If another six week program were to focus on academic skill development, then the instructor could grow out the spinach in 40 days, but select the data collection component rather than the nutrition component to increase standards-based and common core skill development.

If the life cycle of a plant is taught in Pre-K-Grade 1, then what is the educational benefit of using EarthBox products with upper level students?
The life cycle of the plant is only one of many lessons that students learn with the EarthBox curricula. The 17 lessons in the elementary curriculum address 18 relevant science standards under the following sections: Unifying Concepts and Processes, Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Science and Technology and Science in Personal And Social Perspectives; three Reading and Writing standards, four math standards and three national consumer Science standards. The Middle School Support Curriculum address 27 science standards, most frequently in the Life Science area; 4 Reading and Writing Standards, four principles and Math standards, and five Consumer Science Standards. The High School curriculum addresses 32 standards, 18 in science, 4 in Reading and Writing, 3 math and 5 Consumer Science. Overall, the curriculum engages, builds capacity, and provides continuity of learning throughout a student’s academic career, making it more likely that they retain the skills and knowledge.

Why is EarthBox better than simply planting bean sprouts in a paper cup, a standard planter box, or an outside garden?
Scientifically engineered by agronomists at the University of Florida, The EarthBox Ready-To-Grow container gardening system provides the controlled environment required to perform authentic scientific experiments. Designed and proven as an agricultural production container, it makes the study of agriculture in the classroom possible and credible. The correlated, standards-based curriculum elevates the EarthBox to an academically qualitative resource evaluated and approved by TERC, National Ag in the Classroom, The California Instructional School Garden Network, and SEDL. It also has the added benefit of producing high crop yields.

How do you connect projects with the EarthBox to recycling and global warming?
The EarthBox itself is recyclable. The potting mix is reusable. The system uses less water and fertilizer than in traditional farming and there is no fertilizer run off to pollute the ground water table. The more plants we grow using less fossil fuel for fertilizer and field plowing, the more we reduce our carbon foot and global warming. Furthermore, the EarthBox can grow out food where it never grew before, on rooftops, on brown lots, in school yards and on macadam. Therefore, it can green our cities and neighborhoods.

Where can I get horticultural support to select, nurture and harvest crops?
It is always best to get local support. You can locate an expert at your local cooperative extension HERE.

How can teachers in zones 5-9 implement a productive EarthBox Instructional School Garden during a regular school year?
No problem. Teachers in zones 5-9 can implement a productive Instructional School Garden by using the standards-based curriculum in the classroom with a grow light all year long; the EarthBox for World Food Day School Kit outdoors in the spring; and the Youth Garden Guide activities in the winter, spring, summer, and fall. They can plant and harvest a productive cool weather crop garden with lettuce, spinach, radish, chard and numerous other greens in the spring and fall in almost every USDA plant hardiness zone.

Where can I find funding for an EarthBox Instructional School Garden?
Sign up for the Education e-newsletter which lists a funding source in each issue; review the newsletters in the archives to find sources. Check out the robust funding sources listed on the Testimonials, Funding Sources, Lessons, and World Food Day web page