Growing Food for the Community One Raised Bed at a Time

Teacher(s): _________________________________________________________________________
Main Contact: ______________________ Phone: _______________ Email: ____________________
Date: _____________ Building: ____________________________ Grade Level: ___All______
First Trimester: ____X_____ Second Trimester: ____X_____ Third Trimester: ____X____
First Semester: ___________ Second Semester: __________

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Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

As a school, we will build raised garden beds to donate to various community organizations. Included with the raised garden beds will be compost, seeds, plants and information on each variety.


Effective Practice: MEANINGFUL SERVICE

Service learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

What community need will you address and how did you determine the need?

Our community does not have an abundance of grocery stores in the area so our community lacks access to fresh, healthy produce. We are in somewhat of a food desert. We mapped out the community and the closest full service grocery store was “x” miles away. Unfortunately, many members of the community without transportation rely on convenience stores for their grocery needs and most convenience stores carry heavily processed foods high in fat and calories.

In addition to mapping out the community, we also surveyed the student body to determine where their families do most of their grocery shopping. The students were also asked how often they eat fresh produce, if their family grows any of their own food and if the opportunity was available, would they be interested in growing their own produce. We also surveyed various organizations in the community including nursing homes, food pantries and shelters to see if they would be interested in having the ability to grow their own food onsite.

What service will you provide to address the need?

It is our goal to shrink our community food desert by providing raised bed kits to various organizations. We would also like to raise enough funds through donations to offer these raised bed kits to families within our own school district and possibly selling additional beds within our community and the Greater Grand Rapids area to sustain the program for future years.

Once a list of community organizations that would like a raised garden bed has been created, the students will visit those organizations to install the beds, plant the plants and inform community organization on how to properly care for and maintain their bed.


Effective Practice: LINK TO CURRICULUM

Service learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

How is this project related to your curriculum?


  • Find seed and grow plants
  • Create school composting program & maintain compost bins
  • Researching plants that can grow well in Michigan
  • Write plant information and growing/harvesting instructions


  • Determine project costs
  • Lead fundraising campaign
  • Handle all funds

Art and/or Computers

  • Create layout and artwork for brochures
  • Create layout and artwork for posters and flyers for advertising


  • Create text for brochures
  • Create text for posters and flyers for advertising
  • Review and edit text submitted by fellow students on plant info and instruction
  • Write grants for supplies


  • Research the best raised bed designs (size, shape, handicap accessibility, etc.)
  • Build raised beds
  • Build compost bins

Social Studies/Geography

  • Conduct survey to determine ethic make up of community and student body
  • Research produce association with each ethnicity represented
  • Research heirloom varieties of plants for senior centers


  • Create public service announcements to raise community awareness
  • Create You Tube videos to promote project
  • Research and determine community organizations in need of raised beds

What are the educational goals?

• Provide hands-on learning opportunities for students
• Build and develop life skills
• Raise awareness about need within community
• Provide opportunity for students to provide meaningful service to their community
• Give students opportunity to build, share and showcase skills with community
• Increase student’s knowledge about their community and it’s ethnic diversity
• Encourage students and families to eat healthier
• Teach students, their families and community organizations how to grow their own food


Curriculum Crafter Connections

Strand: Teacher will determine

Additional State Standards and Benchmarks

List standards and benchmarks met by this project.


Effective Practice: REFLECTION

Service learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

What form(s) of reflection will you use with the students to help them identify what they have learned and accomplished?

• Journaling
• Reflective essays
• Directed writings
• Student portfolios
• Class presentations
• Classroom discussions

Example: Student Portfolios – A vital way for students to keep records and learn organizational skills. Encourage them to take photographs of themselves doing their project, short explanations (like business reports), time logs, evaluations by supervisors or any other appropriate “proof” which could be used in an interview. Require them to make this professional. Keep reminding them that submitting it at the end of the term is only one reason for doing this. “The real reason is to have documentation to present at future interviews. This could be a major factor in distinguishing them from other candidates.” Student portfolios could contain a weekly log, personal journal, directed writings and photo essay. Also, any products completed during the service experience (i.e., agency brochures, lesson plans, advocacy letters) should be submitted for review. Finally, a written evaluation essay providing a self-assessment of how effectively they met the learning objectives of the course is suggested for the portfolio.


Effective Practice: DIVERSITY

Service learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

What types of diverse perspectives and experiences will be explored as part of your project?

(i.e.: cultural, generational, abilities/disabilities, learning styles, etc)

• Cultural – the students will be researching the various ethnic groups within their community and foods familiar to that ethnicity. They’ll have the opportunity to learn about different foods grown all over the world and possibly even sample some of these foods as well. The students will also be exposed to the problems these ethnicities face finding familiar foods, especially produce, within their community.

• Generational – the students may be working with senior citizens if they donate raised beds to nursing homes. The students will help the seniors install and plant the beds and they will teach them about the plants they planted and why. They’ll also have the opportunity to learn about problems seniors have with gardening such as mobility and through their research, will have the opportunity to address some of these issues to make the gardening experience an enjoyable one for the seniors.

• Abilities/Disabilities – if the students donate raised beds to organizations that work with people with disabilities, they will have the chance to work with some of their patrons/residents and customize beds that people of all abilities can utilize and benefit from.

• Learning Styles – through classroom and small group activities, the students will be exposed to activities that engage learners of all styles.


Effective Practice: YOUTH VOICE

Service learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning experiences with guidance from adults.

How will students gain ownership of the project?

The students will gain ownership of the project through their hard work and research. Students will be responsible for researching and contacting community organizations to work with, choosing the raised garden bed design, researching and growing the plants for the kits, developing all promotional and advertising pieces, etc. Teachers will serve as advisors to troubleshoot problems, assist with planning, guide and oversee classroom projects and answer questions that students may have along the way. It is our goal to offer a variety of activities and projects so each student involved has the opportunity to showcase their skills.



Service learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

Who will you partner with for this project?

Various partners for various stages of project completion

• David’s House Ministries
• Kent/MSU Master Gardeners
• Local nursing homes, shelters, missions, food pantries and churches could receive donated raised garden beds

How will students benefit from this partnership?

• David’s House Ministries can guide the students in building the raised garden beds. Students that like to build may also find a new place to volunteer and learn trade skills.
• Kent/MSU Master Gardeners can help the students with composting and rearing plants. For some students, this may be the first time they are exposed to gardening and could be the start of a life long hobby.
• Nursing home patients can serve as mentors to students. Students will work with the seniors to determine plants they would like to grow (such as various heirloom varieties) and also when planting the garden. During this time, great friendships may develop.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

• David’s House Ministries could receive a raised garden bed kit for each new home they build
Kent/MSU Master Gardeners could receive raised beds for their Junior Master Gardener Program
• Local food pantries that receive raised bed kits will have fresh produce for their patrons throughout the summer
• Shelters that receive raised bed kits will have fresh produce for residents and it will also be a great activity for residents



Service learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

How will you assess the student learning goals?

Teachers will need to determine this based on their curriculum

How will you assess your service goals?

Again, based on project development and specific project goals, the teacher(s) will need to determine this.



Service learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

How will you prepare students for this experience?

• Teambuilding activities to get the students used to working with each other
• Research various nonprofit and charity organizations within our community and interview representatives from several to determine who would benefit from having raised beds

What are some sample possible activities students might do as part of this project?

This project will run the course of the school year. During the fall and early winter the students will work on designing the raised garden beds, contacting partners, researching plants for each kit, designing brochures, etc. In late winter/early spring the students will start rearing the plants to be included in the kits.



The three arms of sustainability are environmental stewardship, economic growth, and social progress. Think planet, profit, and people.

Describe how your project addresses the issue of sustainability?

We hope to solicit as many donations for materials and labor as we can. In order to be able to raise funds for next year, we plan to assemble extra raised bed garden kits to sell throughout the community. We will also look for grant funds through sources such as Donors Choose, Disney’s Planet Challenge and local community funds.

Possible Sources for Donations (Seed, material and labor donations)

Material & Labor Donations

  • Home Depot
  • Lowe’s
  • Local contractors
  • Menards

Seed Donations

  • Seed Savers Exchange
  • Baker Creek Seeds
  • Fruit Basket Flowerland
  • Terrior Seeds
  • Other local greenhouses and greenhouse supply companies

This project will provide the community with access to fresh, healthy produce. Enabling people to grow their own food is a great way for them to reconnect to the land and their cultural while improving their own health and personal well being. It will also save them money. It can also serve as a great physical and therapeutic activity for the elderly or for those living in shelters and other forms of temporary housing.