Service learning is a way to give students a structured curriculum that includes hands-on learning and community service. One idea for a service-learning project is to have students improve the landscape and environment around them through gardening. You can create a gardening service learning project by following these tips:
- Keep in mind the goals of service learning Service learning links theory to practice. Give your students a way to learn about a possible career path and civic responsibility through academic learning combined with a hands-on project serving the community. Also, make sure your project will promote group work and interpersonal communication. Your activities should empower your students and build their self-esteem. You should help them form partnerships with their community that they can use later in life [source: Ripon College].
- Find a community partner Before you begin the project, you should find a partner in a community organization or facility that your students can get involved with. You might want to choose a variety of partners to establish some diversity in your program [source: Alexander, Applebaum].
- Plan the curriculum Identify curriculum standards, content and skills that are important to your project [source: Berger Kaye]. Assess the needs of the community. Where will a gardening project have the most impact? Establish a timeline for completing the project. Get students involved in some of the planning, including budgeting, marketing and resource planning. Set up a way to evaluate and assess the process and outcomes of the project [source: Alexander, Applebaum].
- Focus on the skills Based on your community's needs, students will be able to target different areas of gardening. Students can learn about culturally relevant foods, plants and gardening methods, and then create a community garden people eat from. Students could work to transform a damaged area by planting. Other skills could be learning about pesticides and pest control, feeding needy families or teaching others how to grow their own plants and food [source: Pranis].