Since 2014, Plant the Seed has been partnering with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to integrate experiential garden-based learning into the school day. Starting with three Early Learning Centers, we began facilitating weekly garden lessons and maintaining educational growing spaces. Today we grow alongside nearly 1100 young people each week – advancing the intersection of education and food justice, building cultural connections, and connecting young people to the land, their learning and one another.
We partner with public schools and community organizations throughout Nashville – with an emphasis on growing in neighborhoods that are labeled as “food deserts” or have a high percentage of food insecure residents. We know we can’t solve food insecurity or grow a more equitable education system alone, but we are an integral part in these larger community-wide conversations. By teaching students where their food comes from and teaching them how to grow fresh, local, culturally-relevant foods, we seek to connect students and their families to the land and life-long skills that improve well-being.
At our partner schools, we provide learning experiences that enrich academic curriculum and boost civic engagement. Unlike typical afterschool garden programs, we have pioneered meaningful integration of garden education into school curriculum, especially at the Pre-K level. We embrace a child-led approach, where facilitators plan lessons that follow children’s interests and allow for experimentation and exploration. Our students cultivate a sense of wonder at the world around them and gain confidence in their ability to be agents of meaningful change.
Plant the Seed meets school communities where they are. Through intentional relationship building, we learn their needs and priorities and share a culture of outdoor education, food awareness, seasonal rhythms and environmental stewardship. Each month students take home a lesson from our “Bringing the Garden Home” series, where they become the teachers of a garden concept to their families, reinforcing their learning with others. Growing and sharing has always been a cornerstone of community—we create a fertile space for learning and growing together, and the soil does the rest.