For Educators


Teaching Food Systems and Sustainability in Nutrition Education and Dietetic Training: Lessons for Educators 2013 – This special volume is a resource for educators published by the Hunger, Environmental and Nutrition Journal.

Making It Happen – Click to view posters with useful tips aimed at principals, teachers, students and parents.


Teach Kids the Difference Between Organic & Non-Organic in 2 mins with this Easy Experiment


Metro Vancouver School & Youth Leadership Programs – Inspiring students and teachers to get to know, value and care about the place they live and the systems they depend upon. Find engaging and curriculum-connected field trips, teacher workshops, K-12 resources, videos and youth leadership programs.

Life Lab – An excellent & comprehensive site offering curriculum resources, educational workshops for families and educators, and inspiring testimonies for outdoor classrooms and food literacy.

Demonstrations in Soil Science – This is a site created at Purdue and features a collection of soil experiments that can be used in the classroom or for science fair exhibits.

Dr. Dirt– Dr. Dirt, a.k.a. Dr. Clay Robinson of West Texas A&M University, aims this site towards grades K-8. It contains over 15 modules for students to learn about erosion, irrigation, the nutrient cycle of soils, global implications of soil, and much more. Students can check out the FAQ or submit their own question to Dr. Dirt.

Education Center: The Plant Health Instructor (K-12 Plant Path-Waysto Science) – Sponsored by the American Phytopathological Society, this site is chock full of information for teachers and experiments for the K-12 set. It contains upcoming programs and workshops for science teachers to keep current, lesson plans, and an illustrated glossary. Experiments cover plant viruses, parasites, and fungi.

The Great Plant Escape – This clever, award-winning site, in both English and Spanish, offers six “cases” for students to solve involving the impact of plants and crops on people. Hosted by a carrot and a sprout, each case is set up like a mystery that walks kids through outcomes for each case, background materials and facts, definitions, and experiments.

Natural Resources Conservation Service K-12 Resources on Soils– This site contains a list of soil-based lesson plans not listed elsewhere in this list.

Soils Sustain Life: Educational Resources for Teachers– This site, developed by the Soil Science Society of America, includes lessons and experiments, such as soil texture analysis and creating crayons out of soil, and is useful for most any area of the country. Other helpful resources include soil facts and definitions.

Evergreen: School Ground Greening – Evergreen, a Canadian environmental charity provides resources, funding, and training for many greening projects, including schoolyards and community gardens.  An excellent site with a wealth of information for educators.

Environmental Youth Alliance – This site offers volunteer opportunities, internships and mentorships for youth engaged in sustainability initiatives, as well as tools and workshops for educators.

Richmond Schoolyard Society – Based in Richmond, B.C. this charitable organization provides opportunities for elementary students to grow food and learn from the garden.

Center for Ecoliteracy– An American non-profit focused on promoting ecological literacy- this site offers an abundance of resources and inspiration for educators and anyone interested in ecological learning and sustainability initiatives (books, films, articles, seminars, etc.)

Resources for Rethinking– Canadian educational non-profit focused on knowledge, skills, and perspectives to enable a sustainable future.  Offers in-depth discussion on alternative pedagogical practices for hands-on learning as well as practical curriculum connections to foster environmental learning.  An excellent site for educators!

The Backyard Buzz

UNESCO.ORG – visit to explore TEACHING AND LEARNING FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE – a multimedia teacher education programme


Grant, Tim, and Gail Littlejohn, eds. “Greening School Grounds: Creating Habitats for Learning”

Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2001.
The editors of Green Teacher magazine present an anthology of articles by educators and practitioners to guide teachers through all phases of a project, from winning the support of administrators to designing and creating to exploring the multiple educational uses of school nature areas.

The Green Schools Initiative
“Little Green Schoolhouse: Thinking Big about Ecological Sustainability, Children’s Environmental Health and K–12 Education in the USA” 

Berkeley, CA: The Green Schools Initiative, 2005.
Download at
This downloadable 40-page guide from the Green Schools Initiative presents a framework and many examples for envisioning and reforming schools to provide healthy environments for students and staff and to promote ecological sustainability.

Green Teacher Magazine
Niagara Falls, NY/Toronto, ON
(888) 804-1486
Quarterly magazine featuring ideas for rethinking education in light of environmental and global challenges. Includes practical articles and ready-to-use activities and evaluations of books, kits, games, and other resources.

Gruenewald, David A., and Gregory A. Smith, eds. 
Place-Based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity

New York: Routledge, 2007.
Frames place-based pedagogy as part of a broader social movement reclaiming the significance of the local, and links the development of ecological awareness and stewardship to concerns about equity and cultural diversity.

Hawken, Paul
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World

New York: Penguin Books, 2008.
Shows how groups around the world, ranging from neighborhood associations to well-funded international organizations, are confronting such issues as environmental destruction, social justice, and the loss of indigenous cultures.

Heinberg, Richard
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2011
“Economic growth as we have known it is over and done with,” writes Post Carbon Fellow Richard Heinberg, with profound implications for our accustomed ways of organizing economies, politics, and daily life.

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
Download at
FoodSpan is a free high school curriculum developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future that empowers students to make healthy and responsible food choices. Features include: 17 lesson plans, 2 short films, and 100+ hands-on activities and extensions that can serve as homework assignments or group projects. FoodSpan lessons are aligned to US education standards, relevant to students’ lived experiences, easy-to-use, and customizable. Educators can choose to work through the entire curriculum or teach stand-alone lessons on topics of interest.

Food System Primer
Bite-sized introductions to big ideas about the food system. Developed by leading experts and educators at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, the Primer offers short, easy-to-digest readings about topics from farm to fork, peppered with anecdotes and images that bring concepts to life. Directories of articles, reports, lesson plans, and other resources help food system scholars dig deeper into the issues.

Kiefer, Joseph, and Martin Kemple
Digging Deeper: Integrating Youth Gardens Into Schools & Communities
Montpelier, VT: Food Works/Common Roots Press, 1998.
A practical, step-by-step guide for creating successful youth gardens, with activities, project ideas, and resources for teaching communities about living sustainably in their local ecosystems.

Kingsolver, Barbara
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

New York: Harper Perennial, 2008.
The acclaimed novelist reports on her family’s move to rural Virginia with the intention to buy food raised in their neighborhood, grow it themselves, or do without it.

Lappé, Anna
Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It
New York, Berlin, and London: Bloomsbury, 2010
Lappé brings the climate discussion home with sharp analysis linking food, personal health, and the health of the planet. She concludes with seven principles for a climate-friendly diet, with numerous practical steps to put those principles into practice.

Lappé, Frances Moore
EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

New York: Nation Books, 2011
Thinking like an ecosystem — attending to patterns of interconnection, change, and context — is necessary in order to answer the question, “What conditions enhance life?” and to avoid the thought traps that limit our effectiveness as agents of change.

Lappé, Frances Moore
Getting a Grip 2: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want

Cambridge, MA: Small Planet Media, 2010
We are more powerful than we think, but misconceptions — about power, human nature, or how change happens — stand between us and creating a more just, sustainable world. Lappé counters those ideas with evidence from neuroscience and anthropology, as well as success stories for ways of living worthy of our planet’s needs and the best in us.

Levine, Susan
School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.
Traces the history of school lunch in the United States, with attention to the influence of the agricultural and commercial food industries and the consequences for the meals served to students.

Life Lab Science Program
Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms

Berkeley: Center for Ecoliteracy, 1997.
This collaboration of the Life Lab Science Program and the Center for Ecoliteracy offers a step-by-step guide for starting a school garden and integrating it into the curriculum.

Lopez, Barry and Debra Gwartney, eds.
Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape

San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2006
A lovely evocation of the language of locale, with brief essays defining more than 850 landscape terms. Nearly four dozen writers including Gretel Ehrlich, Robert Hass, Barbara Kingsolver, and Terry Tempest Williams expound on fell field, ganderbrush, imbricated rock, palisade, tuckamore, and other words that speak precisely, often with distinctive regional accents, about particular places.

Louv, Richard
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2008.
Louv argues for a return to an awareness of and experience in nature (including healthy stretches of unstructured time) for the well-being of both children and the natural world.

Macy, Joanna and Chris Johnstone
Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy
Novato, California: New World Library, 2012.
The authors outline a transformative process to equip us with tools to face the environmental and social crises before us, move beyond despair or paralysis, and contribute to a collective transition, “the Great Turning,” to a life-sustaining society.

Meadows, Donella H. 
Thinking in Systems: A Primer

White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008.
Posthumously published book by one of the clearest and wisest writers and thinkers to apply systems dynamics to understanding and addressing problems on scales ranging from the personal to the global.

Orr, David W.
Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Orr describes in detail the long emergency that theatens human civilization, then offers a wide range of proposals to reconnect public policy and science, align our economy with ecological realities, and act as planetary trustees for future generations.

Orr, David W. 
Ecological Literacy: Education and the Transition to a Postmodern World

Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.
One of the foundational books defining the role of education in responding to the sustainability crisis facing the world.

Orr, David W.
Hope Is an Imperative: The Essential David Orr

Washington, DC: Island Press, 2010
Thirty-three seminal essays exploring ecological literacy by the premier environmental educator of our time.

Orr, David W. 
The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention

New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
David Orr uses the story of the creation of the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin College, the first substantially green building on a college campus, as the starting point for provocative meditations on ecological design and education for sustainability.

Pollan, Michael
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

New York: Penguin Press, 2008.
Michael Pollan explores the replacement of food in Western diets with “edible foodlike substances,” and indicts the food industry and nutritional science for their complicity in shifting attention from food — and the pleasures of eating — to obsession with a nutrient-by-nutrient litany of isolated substances, viewed as the causes or cures for diet-related unhealthiness.

Poppendieck, Janet
Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.
Illuminates the “deep politics” of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs from perspectives including history, policy, environmental sustainability, nutrition, and taste. Draws from extensive interviews with officials, workers, students, and activists.

Schlosser, Eric, and Charles Wilson
Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know about Fast Food

New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
The author of Fast Food Nation tells the whole story of fast food, including its social and nutritional consequences, for preteen readers.

School Garden Weekly
Los Angeles, CA
Weekly e-newsletter with relevant stories and instructional activities for school gardens.

Senge, Peter M. 
Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares about Education

New York: Doubleday/Currency, 2000.
Applies the theories, tools, and methods of systems dynamics and organizational learning in order to give people a way to think about and act upon the underlying forces that shape schools and communities.

Shelburne Farms’ Sustainable Schools Project
The Guide to Education for Sustainability

Shelburne, VT, 2011. Downloadable at
This revision of the estimable Vermont Guide to Education for Sustainability reflects the changing field of education for sustainability and shares new strategies learned by the Sustainable Schools Project.

Sobel, David
Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education

Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society, 2005.
David Sobel argues for developmentally appropriate education that gives young children the opportunity to develop love for the natural world before confronting them with news of ecological disaster.

Sobel, David
Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms & Communities

Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society, 2005.
A concise introduction to the movement to reconceptualize environmental education by connecting students to neighborhoods, communities, and ecologies, based on the work of Community-based School Environmental Education in New England.

Relational Reality: New Discoveries of Interrelatedness That Are Transforming the Modern World
Topsham, ME: Green Horizon Books, 2011.
Considers in particular four major areas — the economy, health and healthcare, community design and architecture, and education and parenting — that are being transformed by the understanding that all entities in the world, including humans, are composed of and nested within networks of creative, dynamic interrelationships.

Stone, Michael K., and Center for Ecoliteracy
Smart by Nature: Schooling for Sustainability

Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media, 2009.
Documents the schooling for sustainability movement across the U.S. and describes strategies for greening the campus and the curriculum, conducting environmental audits, rethinking school food, and transforming schools into models of sustainable community.

Stone, Michael K., and Zenobia Barlow, eds.
Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2005.
Presents the Center for Ecoliteracy’s conceptual foundations and chronicles some of the most successful Center-supported projects that put those concepts into practice.

Sweeney, Linda Booth
Connected Wisdom: Living Stories about Living Systems
Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008
How do we learn to live sustainably — or within the means of nature? Through 12 timeless folktales and modern examples, readers from 10 to 110 explore how the laws that guide living systems can also guide how we live and learn. Companion CD available.

Teachers College Columbia University
LiFE  Curriculum Series: Growing Food; Farm to Table & Beyond; Choice, Control, & Change

New York and South Burlington, VT: Teachers College Columbia University and National Gardening Association, 2007–2010.
This series from Teachers College Columbia University is designed to teach children to think scientifically, using scientific evidence to construct theories about food and food systems that can lead to choices that promote ecological and personal health.

Tillman, Tiffany
Healthy Neighborhoods/Healthy Kids Guide

Shelburne, VT: Shelburne Farms, 2008. Order at
Contains lesson plans, tools, planning guides, and resources to help educators engage youth in creating livable and sustainable communities, based on the Healthy Neighborhoods/Healthy Kids program in Burlington, Vermont.

Umphrey, Michael L. 
The Power of Community-Centered Education: Teaching as a Craft of Place

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2007.
Provides psychological, sociological, historical, and philosophical insights into why community works so well as an organizing principle for high school.

Wals, Arjen E.J., ed.
Social Learning Towards a Sustainable World
Wageningen, the Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2007
Twenty-seven essays from six continents presenting and discussing social learning in the context of sustainability, including “Social Learning in the STRAW Project” by the Center’s Michael K. Stone and Zenobia Barlow.

Wals, Arjen E.J. and Peter Blaze Corcoran, eds.
Learning for Sustainability in Times of Accelerating Change
Wageningen, the Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2012
Thirty-one essays on sustainability in the midst of uncertainty, complexity and change, including “Living Systems, Sustainability Education, and Institutional Change” by the Center’s Michael K. Stone and Zenobia Barlow.

Waters, Alice
Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea

San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2008.
Alice Waters tells the story of the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley and the growth of the idea of Edible Education, integrating academics with the growing, cooking, and sharing of wholesome and delicious food.

Wheatley, Margaret J. 
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World

San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006.
Guide to applying new discoveries in biology, chaos theory, and quantum physics to organizations of all types, and to our personal lives.


Experience & Education (1938) – John Dewey 

Roots & Research in Urban School Gardens (2011) – Veronica Gaylie 

The learning garden: Ecology, teaching, and transformation (2009) – Veronica Gaylie 

A breath of fresh air:  Celebrating nature and school gardens (2003)E. Houghton

City Farmer: Adventures in urban food growing (2010) – L. Johnson

Digging Deeper: Integrating youth gardens into schools and communities (1998) – J. Kiefer and M. Kemple

Closing the achievement gap: Using the environment as an integrating context for learning (1998) – G. Lieberman and L. Hoody

Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder (2008) – R. Louv

Plants for play: A plant selection guide for children’s outdoor environments (1993) – R. Moore

The geogrpahy of childhood: Why children need wild places (1994) – G. Nabhan and S. Trimble

Second nature: A gardener’s education (1991) – M. Pollan

Beyond ecophobia: Reclaiming the heart in nature education (1996) – D. Sobel

The pull of the earth: Participatory ethnography in the school garden (2006) – L. Thorp

Edible schoolyard: A universal idea (2008) – A. Waters

Biophilia: The human bond with other species (1984) – E.O. Wilson


Blair, D. (2009). The child in the garden: An evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening.  Journal of Environmental Education40, 15-38.

Gaylie, V.  (2009).  Imagine: Ecology and teacher education.  Green Teacher Magazine84, 29-31.

Graham, H., Beall, D., Lussier, M., McLoughlin, P., Zidenberg-Cherr, S. (2005). Use of school gardens in academic instruction. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior37,  147-151.

Morris, J., Briggs, M., Zidenberg-Cherr, S. (2000). School-based gardens can teach kids healthier eating habits.  California Agriculture54, 40-46.

Weaver-Hightower, M.B. (2011). Why education researchers should take school food seriously. Educational Researcher, 40, 15-21.

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