What is the Wisconsin School Garden Network?
The Wisconsin School Garden Network, or WSGN, builds off of the success of the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative to support the growing school garden movement in our state. WSGN offers support for new and existing gardens at schools, early care and education centers, and after school sites. The vision of WSGI is to:
- Continue to improve children's health and wellbeing by supporting and promoting best practices in garden-based education
- Continue to connect educators and school garden leaders around the state to free resources, funding opportunities, and inspirational stories via a robust communications network. Continue to offer free training and technical support for new and existing youth gardens.
- Support garden-based education in urban and rural communities around the state by establishing five nodes of school garden leadership throughout the state, using regional expertise and community connections
- Engage local and state-level decision makers to lay the groundwork for policy changes that support school gardens and garden-based education.
- Bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to establish goals and priorities for the school garden movement in Wisconsin.
Get Involved with WSGN
You can join the network of school garden supporters by subscribing to the WSGN newsletter - you'll hear from us once a month, and add your voice to those calling for gardens as essential elements in Wisconsin schools. We also invite educators to share garden success stories, attend events, download resources, or simply ask us a question. Visit our Get Involved page to learn more.
Funder and Partners
The Wisconsin School Garden Network is supported by the Cultivate Health Initiative (CHI), which is a joint project of Community GroundWorks and the Environmental Design Lab, in collaboration with healthTIDE and the Obesity Prevention Initiative. CHI is supported by many local, state and national partners including schools and school districts, regional health departments and health coalitions, and state agencies and organizations such as the Wisconsin Department Health Services, the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and UW-Extension.
Funding for the Wisconsin School Garden Network is provided by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health from the Wisconsin Partnership Program.
School Gardens and Farm to School
Along with local food procurement, nutrition education, and other student engagement activities, school gardens are an integral component of a comprehensive Farm to School program. WSGN collaborates with various state and national partners to offer school garden expertise that supports effective Farm to School implementation.
School Gardens and Green & Healthy Schools
School gardens are also an important component of Green and Healthy Schools. WSGN enthusiastically supports the Green & Healthy Schools movement in Wisconsin, and is proud to be a GHS Provider.
The Wisconsin School Garden Initiative was created in 2013 to support the development of school and community youth gardens in our state by offering free professional development opportunities for educators, technical assistance, useful resources, and to begin developing a support structure and network for new and existing youth gardens. As a three-year project of Community GroundWorks, WSGI was built on the success of the Got Dirt? Gardening Initiative, helping to reduce obesity rates and improve health outcomes in Wisconsin's children (ages 2-18) through garden-based education. From 2013-2016, WSGI worked to support new and existing gardens at school, after-school, and early childhood sites across Wisconsin via:
- Offering free trainings and ongoing technical support for garden educators and teachers
- Creating a website, enewsletter, and social media sites to maintain a collection of resources for youth gardens including guidance documents, grant opportunities, and youth garden stories.
- Contributing to the evidence that school gardens and nutrition education strengthen the effects of the comprehensive Farm to School model on child health outcomes. With help from academic partners at the University of Wisconsin, WSGI's Growing Farm to School research project worked to assess student knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and self-efficacy related to fruits and vegetables at a collection of Wisconsin elementary schools active in Farm to School.
The Wisconsin School Garden Initiative was made possible because of many state and non-profit agencies coming together in support of youth gardening initiatives. WSGI was formed through a partnership between Community GroundWorks, University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty, UW-Extension, and Wisconsin's State Master Gardener Association, Department of Public Instruction, Department of Health Services, and Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection.
Funding for the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative was provided by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health from the Wisconsin Partnership Program.
In July of 2014, WSGI was honored to receive a University-Community Partnership Awardfrom the Wisconsin Partnership Program. Partnership Awards "highlight exemplary partnerships that get to the heart of the Wisconsin Idea: community members and UW-Madison personnel working collaboratively to transform the campus and the community for the public good."
The infographics below describe the accomplishments of WSGI at the end the three year initiative, and the vision of how this work will continue via the Wisconsin School Garden Network!