Healthy Works School Gardens

School Gardens

In schools and neighborhoods across the country, gardens have become a powerful tool for promoting learning, healthy living, environmental stewardship, and social connections. Research shows that students who participate in school garden programs score higher on academic tests and consume more fruits and vegetables. School gardens that are actively supported by a community are more apt to flourish and provide a dynamic classroom for students, teachers, and staff. Cities with community gardens report a boost in property values, neighborhood pride, and social connectivity. Residents in these cities have greater access to healthy, affordable foods and an opportunity to participate in city greening.

Yet even though school and community gardens offer far-reaching benefits, keeping them thriving can be challenging. Schools often rely on the support of garden "champions" to keep gardens going, but when these key supporters leave, the garden goes fallow. Neighborhood residents seeking to establish community gardens often face complicated zoning regulations and high land costs, insurmountable barriers in even the most supportive communities. Establishing community gardens on school property- so-called joint use gardens, where the school uses some plots and community residents use others - provides an innovative solution to developing and sustaining school and community gardens.

By supporting community/school partnerships to establish joint-use garden projects, Healthy WorksSM is not only enhancing garden sustainability but also ensuring that gardens endure as long-term resources for both schools and neighborhood residents. Healthy WorksSM staff are collaborating with school districts throughout San Diego County to encourage the systems and environmental changes needed for this undertaking:


  • Wellness policy amendments that acknowledge the health, social, and academic benefits gardens can offer schools and community members;
  • Joint-use agreements that partner community agencies with schools to help develop, manage, and maintain a school/community garden;
  • Community partnerships and volunteer support that can assist schools in creating viable school garden programs;
  • Integration of gardening activities and garden-grown produce into classrooms, after-school programs, and school meals.

The Healthy Works School Gardens page includes resources on the following:

Joint UseSchool-Community Gardens | Garden to Cafeteria

Joint Use Resources




Joint Use Project Materials

These documents offer an overview of joint use gardens and provide information about local joint use garden activity.

Joint Use 101

<p>Joint Use Project Materials</p>
<li>School and Community Gardens Overview</li>
<li>Project Timeline</li>
<li>Joint Use Gardens: Building Community, Supporting Schools</li>
<li>Joint Use Talking Points</li>
<li>Regional Garden Education Center Course Schedule</li>
</ul>Joint Use 101


These documents offer an explanation about what joint use is in policy and practice.

Legal Framework and Liability

These documents offer information about the legal implications of joint use in schools.

Volunteers and Background Checks

These documents offer an understanding of procedures related to employing volunteers at a facility practicing joint use.

Joint Use Checklist


This document offers a list of steps for developing a joint use agreement.

Sample Joint Use Agreements

These documents are examples of joint use agreements that have been developed in other American communities.

Research and Other Resources

These documents are to serve as resources for information on the operation of joint use gardens.

Garden to Cafeteria Resources:

Growing numbers of schools across the country are recognizing the important role that school gardens play in reducing childhood obesity and creating a successful learning environment.  Food service professionals, in particular, are creating innovative partnerships with parents, teachers, and school administrators to include school-grown produce in cafeteria meals. The following documents are to serve as resources for information on the use of school garden-grown produce in the school cafeteria.  The documents below include research supporting school gardens, food safety guidelines, successful garden to cafeteria protocols, and helpful presentations.



Informative Guides:

These documents are to serve as resources for information on the use of school garden-grown produce in the school cafeteria. These documents are informative guides for both school gardens and food service in schools.

Garden to Cafeteria Protocols

These documents outline the garden to cafeteria protocols for school districts within California and successful programs nation-wide.

USDA and Legal Regulations

These documents outline the legal restrictions and guidelines for school gardens.

Food Safety

These documents are to serve as resources for information on the use of school garden-grown produce in the school cafeteria. These documents provide guidelines and protocols to food service employees to ensure food safety while participating in garden to cafeteria programs.

Garden Education Resources and Research

These resources outline the current research in support of school gardens and ways to integrate school gardens into community and school wellness programs.

Workshop Presentations

These documents are the slides from the presentations given at the Garden to Cafeteria Workshop earlier this year.

For further information, please contact JuliAnna Arnett, Senior Manager for the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, a program facilitated by Community Health Improvement Partners at 858.609.7962 or email.


Made possible by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through the County of San Diego.

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  • One in four children in San Diego County is overweight or obese; this is slightly higher than the national average (California Center for Public Health Advocacy, 2009)
  • Walking and biking have decreased more than 40% during the past 3 decades, partly because of unsafe routes and poor walking conditions (Active Living Research, 2009).
  • In 2006 alone, overweight; obesity; and physical inactivity cost California $41 billion in healthcare and productivity loss

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