‘Cultivating Curiosity’: School Garden Conference Set for May 2

garden plot

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A school garden provides more than just green space and an excuse to get students out of the classroom.

School gardens can make learning come alive.

How to make that work is the focus of “Cultivating Curiosity: The Teachable Garden,” a conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 2 at Ohio State University’s Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, Columbus.  

“We held our first school garden conference last year, and I thought most participants would be from in and around Columbus,” said Susan Hogan, who is a program assistant for Ohio State University Extension's 4-H Youth Development program in Franklin County. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

“But to my surprise, we had people come from all over the state.”

The 2014 program offers plenty of topics for schools just beginning to think about starting a garden as well as for those with years of experience, she said.

“This year, we’ll focus more on the benefits of getting kids outdoors and how to write a school garden curriculum to make it fit within the Common Core State Standards in science, math, arts or even social studies.”

Participation is limited to 100, and registration is due April 25. The $45 fee includes lunch. A registration form to download and mail in is available at http://franklin.osu.edu/ or by contacting Hogan at hogan.239@osu.edu.

The keynote, “Growing Brains,” will be offered by Dr. L. Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry from Ohio State’s College of Medicine. In the afternoon, representatives from the Copley-Fairlawn School District’s Arrowhead Primary School will discuss their experiences with their school garden, “Nature Zone,” which was featured in the December 2013 issue of Ohio Schools Magazine.

“They’ll offer a real ‘boots-on-the-ground’ perspective,” Hogan said.

Other general sessions include presentations by Alice Hohl, co-chair of the Leave No Child Inside Central Ohio Collaborative, and James Chatfield, associate professor and OSU Extension specialist who will discuss how gardening can have a positive effect on adults and children alike.

Most of the breakout sessions will focus on the “how-to” aspects of school gardens.

“We have a mix of the theoretical reasons of the benefits of school gardens to the very practical details that people need to get started,” Hogan said.

Breakout sessions include:

  • Building a Community, by Lynn Reese, life science teacher at Upper Arlington High School, about inviting people with the appropriate tools and expertise from the surrounding community to participate in a school garden project.
  • Lettuce, Tomatoes and Peppers—Oh My! Where Do I Begin? by Pam Bennett, statewide Master Gardener coordinator for OSU Extension, about the basic needs for a vegetable garden, including site location, sun, water and more.
  • Planning an Integrated Garden-Based Curriculum for Elementary School by Jacqueline Kowalski, OSU Extension educator, about using school gardens to develop integrated or thematic projects for students.  
  • The Real Dirt on Seeds and Soils, also by Kowalski, which will include how to read soil test results.
  • Recruiting, Training and Retaining Volunteers for the School Garden: Best Practices, by Beth Boomershine, OSU Extension educator in 4-H youth development, about working with volunteers and how the local Extension office and 4-H program can help.
  • Pest Control that Keeps Plants and People Healthy in the Garden, by Mike Hogan, associate professor and OSU Extension educator, about simple pest management techniques including organic pest control options, and food safety precautions to take when producing food in the garden.
  • The Complete Educational Garden, Jim Reding, teacher at Granville High School, about how to meet educational objectives in the school garden and details about projects including garden to cafeteria, community connections, hoop houses and season extensions, and aquaponics.
  • Fun With Fungus—Growing Mushroom Logs for Your Classroom or School Garden, by Heather Neikirk, OSU Extension educator and co-leader of Extension’s Local Foods Signature Program.
  • Perfect Partnerships for Your Educational Garden, by Sue Hogan joined by Peggy Murphy of OSU Extension and Tress Augustine, a Volunteer for America worker at Extension’s Linden Educational Garden, about how schools can partner with nearby community gardens and with 4-H.
  • Container Gardening, by Connie Smith, OSU Extension program assistant and Master Gardener coordinator in Fairfield County, about using containers for a school garden.
  • Grow, Make and Inspire Learning in the Garden through Art! by Trish Clark, director of Farms and Community Outreach at The Crest Gastropub, and Jesse Hickman, program manager with Local Matters, about exploring ways in which art can connect children to learning in a meaningful way.


CFAES News Team
For more information, contact: 

Sue Hogan
614-866-6900, ext. 214