White House Gardeners’ own Garden could Use some Support


 Whitehouse garden

Remember everyone's Passionate Defense of School Gardens after the idiotic attack on them in Atlantic Magazine?  Well, we have an other angle on the problem from a teacher at Bancroft Elementary in DC, the school chosen to participate in Michelle Obama's famous garden. Her behind-the-scenes report reveals some embedded bureaucratic obstacles to school gardens – obstacles that aren't going away soon, even with Obama's new child-obesity initiative having its big kick-off today.IMG_6294

I bet our own Michele could weigh in on the subject – she's a school-garden volunteer herself – and the wonderful volunteer mentioned in the link above was profiled here on the Rant.  I'm sure she could chronicle the frustrations of gardening at Bancroft School herself – if she weren't so nice.  

Anybody else have experiences with school administrators supporting  or not supporting gardens that you're at liberty to tell us about?


  1. Kudos to Sarah and Iris for their hard work. And thank you for posting this. I’m not a teacher, but as a garden lover, I love hearing about any attempt to get gardens in schools, even if it’s not going as well as it should just yet. I hope you’ll keep us posted on their progress, in DC and elsewhere.

  2. I worked for ten years with my Early Childhood Team at a local public school. Administrative roadblocks were a constant. I even dealt with it on my blog entry Gardening With Children.

  3. I was approached by the NWF to assist in designing and facilitating a garden and certified wildlife habitat for an elementary school in Georgetown. I was met with the most horrendous apathy and surly suspicion amongst all but one teacher (the one who wished to implement the program, the one who had sought out grant money from NWF originally). Basically anything I proposed was immediately attacked as adding to the teacher’s burden or labeled as a ‘rodent attractant’ and rejected. I just walked away.

  4. I’ve been met with nothing but enthusiasm from the teachers, the parents, and especially the children. Though I’m just another parent volunteering for something I believe in & have skills for, I find as “Garden Teacher” I get a ridiculous amount of praise for our little patch of earth. Of course this is our first year, and the first bit of funding came from one of our families. Now that time has arrived to actually put the garden in the budget, do some fundraising, or look for someone to apply for grants, attitudes may change. I’m hoping they don’t.

  5. I’ve worked with schools a lot in both science and history curriculums. I have to stick up for the teachers here – every year, all sorts of folks come at them with new ideas and new projects. Gardens are just one of many. Most of these projects are great with great potential. But often the project developers haven’t really taken time to get to know the administrators, teachers or schools needs and how to integrate this new project into the school. It takes years to find the right fit, the right schedule, the right funding etc.

    My advice – listen, be patient, start small and help with fundraising. Then, you’ll find your school and parental supporters.

  6. Our town is incredibly fortunate to have a school garden supported by the faculty, administration and parents who volunteer. They have found ways to integrate the garden into the existing curriculum We are also fortunate that we live in an area where there is an emphasis on sustainable living, good food and a clean environment. Beyond that, there is a larger movement to get local food into the school cafeteria with a Farm to School program.

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