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Category Archives: School Garden Ideas

Gardening With Grandma During The Pandemic

Two years ago when my granddaughter was 8, I gave her this gardening book for children purchased from an online used bookstore.

She loves to garden at my house and seems to find it empowering to trim the suckers off the photinia.  However, I didn’t get any feedback about the book.  

Earlier this year I was surprised to find that she had read the book from cover to cover and had been doing the seasonal activities from it all along.

 We can’t be together or garden for a while so I send pictures to her parents to share with her. 

She has enjoyed following the progress of this “bookshelf garden” that I keep in a sunny window. The leftovers of green onions, carrots, and radishes were planted and are now growing again.

Beverly’s bookshelf garden of repurposed kitchen scraps

I look forward to future in-person gardening projects with my grandaughter but until then I am thankful for this way of continuing our shared love of growing plants. This project has been a helpful tool for teaching propagation, the importance of recycling, and the joy of gardening.

Here is a link describing how children can make their own indoor edible gardens. 

 Gardening Activities-Kitchen Scrap Gardening

Beverly Allen

School Days, Time to Schedule 2015 Field Trips!


A One-acre Garden Designed for Students to Learn about Nature

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher's Garden

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher’s Garden

In Our Garden Classroom:

Hold a Chicken

Smell an Herb

Find a Caterpillar

Plant a Seed

Taste a Vegetable Warm from the Sun

Feed a Compost Pile

Students are taught by Dallas County Master Gardeners, Gardening Experts with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension using Junior Master Gardener ® Curriculum aligned with Texas standardized testing.


Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens

Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens


Schedule a Free Field Trip by contacting or clicking on the School Field Trip Request Form.



11001 Midway Road, Dallas (between Forest & Royal Lanes)


 We’ll leave the Garden Gate Open for You

 More information about our Free School Field Trips: page one, page two

Grace Academy’s Fall Field Trip to the Demonstration Garden

For five years we have enjoyed our relationship with Grace Academy kids.  We see them as first graders in May, they return as second graders in the fall with remarkable growth!

Grace Academy  Second Graders and Teachers, 2014

Grace Academy Second Graders and Teachers, 2014

As Dallas County Master Gardeners, we spend vast amounts of time preparing for these visits and a lot of heart goes into our preparation.   We introduced  them to photosynthesis, seed formation, and plant identification.  Their faces lit up with the wonder of it all.Grace Academy and Michele-plant ID

Cotton is a favorite topic: how to grow it, how it’s used, and how to spin it.  It’s an enthralling topic for all of us. Brush up on your knowledge of cotton here.

Grace Academy kids spinning cotton with Carolyn

The children made self watering containers using recycled water bottles. A Hyacinth Bean seed is planted in each container. It’s important to talk about seeds and the energy they have to create a new plant.

Grace Academy kids making self watering containers

After all, every beginning starts with a seed.



Texas Can Academy Visits The Demonstration Garden

Texas Can Academy visited us Tuesday bringing 39 kids and 3 adults. Instead of the usual field trips to water parks and amusement centers the teachers wanted to build on what they are learning in class about healthy eating and nutrition.  Gardening efforts were already underway at Texas Can Academy with the students planting squash, green beans, peas, and tomatoes. They wanted to learn more about how to set up a “real garden” so a trip to our Demonstration Garden was the perfect next step. 

Keeping a Garden Journal is introduced to our students. This future gardener is writing about herbs he has just tasted, touched, and smelled.

Keeping a Garden Journal is introduced to our students. This future gardener is writing about herbs he has just tasted, touched, and smelled.

We have had 210 students visiting our gardens since the beginning of April, 2014. Our Field Trips are designed to augment the school’s curriculum.  Annette, our educational director, works with teachers to set up learning centers in our gardens taught by Dallas County Master Gardeners.

This little girl is holding up a self watering container she made.  She will be able to take this home and sprout her own seeds.

This little girl is holding up a self watering container she made. She will be able to take this home and sprout her own seeds.

 It’s rewarding to introduce these little children to the joys of gardening.  We like to remind little folks that their t-shirts and jeans are made from the produce of this plant. Note the wonder and surprise in this little girl’s face; a precious moment for us as well. Read more about cotton here.

Excitement in the garden is contagious.  Jim is showing students our cotton plants and cotton bolls.

Excitement in the garden is contagious. Jim is showing students our cotton plants and cotton bolls.

Dallas County Master Gardeners spend a good deal of time and energy with compost! Grass clippings, brown leaves, and vegetable and fruit scraps create the fertilizer for our gardens which eventually feeds us.  We hope to inspire a whole new generation of future composters.

Good compost smells good!

Good compost smells good!

Improve your compost skills by reading Cindy’s Compost tips and you will see why we call her “the compassionate composter”.  For more field trip information click on this link.  Plan your fall visit now.

Thank you Texas Can Academy for visiting us, we will see you again in the fall!

Ann and Annette

Pictures by Starla

West Dallas Community School Third Graders In The Garden

The 28 third graders who came to our garden Tuesday did not need much coaching in appreciating nature.

WDCS Third Graders Harvest A Carrot The loved the carrots and took them back to school for afternoon snacks.. Rosemary was another hit. Last week one of the kids  said he would sleep with Rosemary under his pillow. Maybe  there  will be alot of Rosemary under pillows this week!

WDCS Children PIcking Rosemary

It was a day of garden based education:  learning  the science of compost, how to attract wildlife to the garden, growing vegetables like beans, carrots, lettuce, and swiss chard; and how flowers  regenerate by seed.  Third Graders At The Demonstration Garden From West Dallas Community School

Class dismissed!


Spring Field Trips, West Dallas Community School Returns To The Demonstration Garden

 At The Demonstration Garden we have enjoyed having West Dallas Community School 4th and 5th graders come to our garden.   The students at  have a nature studies class and come to our garden well prepared. 

They experience nature on a daily basis with their very own garden at school and by coming to our garden on field trips.  These students are tasting fava beans for the first time.  Notice the smiles on their faces and carrot and rosemary in the pocket.Fifth Graders From West Dallas Community School and Dallas County Master Gardener, Abbe in background

These boys are looking  carefully for ladybugs on the roses.

West Dallas Community School Boys Visiting The Demonstration Garden

We are happy to have children come to our garden and they are happy!

West Dallas Community School Spring 2013 At The Demonstration Garden



Pictures by Starla

“Without continuous hands-on experience, it is impossible for children to acquire a deep intuitive understanding of the natural world that is the foundation of sustainable development. ….

A critical aspect of the present-day crisis in education is that children are becoming separated from daily experience of the natural world, especially in larger cities.”

Natural Learning, Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature’s Way of Teaching, Robin C. Moore and Herb H. Wong

A Letter To Mom After A Field Trip To The Garden

Dear Mom,

Our wonderful first grade teachers of Grace Academy took us on a field trip to a garden.  And not just any garden, this garden and Dallas County Master Gardeners  taught us about flowers, herbs, vegetables, and two kinds of composting. Mrs. Medina and Mrs. Metheny of Grace Academy, Dallas, Texas

We made garden journals and recorded what we were learning in the garden that day.

Garden Journals at The Demonstration Garden,2311 Joe Field Road, Dallas

We learned the language of flowers and made tussie mussies.

Grace Academy Student with Tussie Mussie

Tussie Mussies and First Graders Visit the Garden with Dallas County Master Gardeners

Thank you, Mom, for all you have done for me.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Can we go back to that Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road soon?


From Your First Grader


Written through the eyes of  the children on our field trip Tuesday by Ann.

Hope you don’t mind!

From Wheat To…….. Bread?

One of the most fascinating aspects of being a gardener is learning about the history of certain plants that are growing in the garden.   Our DemonstrationGarden has many plants that have long and interesting pasts.  From the Garden’s “vegetable lambs” (a.k.a. cotton) to the fascinating stories behind many of the herbs, the Garden provides a mini-history lesson to the school children who visit. 

     Around 10,000 BC three grass species are thought to have crossed, giving rise to the plant we now call “wheat.”  Archeologists have found evidence of wheat in pits and caves used by humans as far back as 8000 BC.   By 6700 BC Stone Age man was using stone tools to grind the wheat into flour.  In fact, it is postulated that the “domestication” of wheat and other cereal crops might have been responsible for turning ancient nomadic hunter-gatherer communities into agrarian, stationary societies.  By 5000 years ago many civilizations grew wheat as a major crop.  The Egyptians were the first to make loaves of bread rise, possibly as a result of using beer, rather than water, as the liquid while making their bread.  Wheat bread was so important in Egyptian culture that in the tombs their dead were provided with miniature granaries to provide food for the afterlife.  An Egyptian museum even displays a loaf of bread found in one of the tombs.   This gives a whole new meaning to the words “stale bread.”

     For the past three to four years, the Demonstration Garden has grown a crop of wheat.  There are two different types of wheat:  fall wheat and spring wheat.  For years, the Garden’s wheat seeds (the name of the variety is unknown) were planted in a long raised bed in the spring.  However, few wheat stalks made it to maturity.  So, after talking to Fred Burrell, who was the County Extension agent at the time, in 2012 the seeds were broadcasted in the fall about 1”-2” apart and about 1”-2” deep in the raised bed.   Judging from the plants,

Wheat Growing At The Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road, Dallas

it looks as if a good crop of mature wheat will be obtained this year.  By late summer the stalks will turn golden and be harvested.

     Until now, the Garden’s wheat crop has been used primarily for educational purposes to show school children an actual wheat plant.  In the past, the few wheat stalks that made it to maturity were cut and used for decoration.  However, at some point, it is hoped that enough wheat can be grown to actually produce a loaf of bread (or maybe a mini-muffin, since it takes about 10 square feet of planted wheat to make one small loaf of bread). 

     If you would like to find out more information on growing your own wheat to make bread, there are several articles on the internet describing the process.  Mother Earth News  has a detailed article on how to go about planting, reaping, threshing, winnowing, and turning the wheat into flour.  Growing your own wheat to make bread isn’t as easy as buying a loaf at the store, but it certainly makes one appreciate what our ancestors and even some people today still do to obtain wheat flour.  So, as you are eating your morning toast, think about the history of wheat as an important food crop.  And, if you have ever grown your own wheat for bread, we would love to hear from you.


Picture by Starla

Homegrown, Veggies, Fruits and Herbs

I have a visual image of Master Gardener and nutritionist Barbara Gollman at Kroger: Red hair flying, trim figure running behind a cart, zipping down the frozen food isle flinging packs of frozen veggies into the cart for one of her wonderful soups. 

Barbara, Dallas County Master Gardener Teaches Value of Vegetables

Barbara intrigued a large group of Master Gardeners Tuesday with her talk on the nutritional benefit of vegetables, fruits, and herbs.  Turns out that Mom was correct when she urged us to eat our vegetables.  Carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables are full of phytochemicals, substances in plants that have the potential to slow aging, boost immunity, prevent disease, and strengthen our hearts and circulation. 

Cabbage, Broccoli Field Road, Dallas, Texas

Barbara suggests that we eat watermelon and tomatoes, plants that are packed with lycopene, a nutrient which helps prevent macular degeneration.  Pinto beans are rich in fiber, which can prevent cancer and heart disease, and flavonoids, which can curb the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and prevent blood clotting.  Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage are high in calcium.  Nuts are filled with Vitamin E, one of the most potent fat-soluble antioxidants. Berries, greens, winter squash—-well, you get the idea.  

Barbara said that new research has shown the health benefits of herbs. Who knew? Turns out that 1 teaspoon of oregano = ¾ cup of brussel sprouts in antioxidants.  

Barbara dries her herbs in the microwave after her husband’s reaction to using his closet as an herb drying rack. Remove the leaves from the stems of the herbs and spread on paper towels.  Put two paper towels on top of the herbs.  Pop in the microwave and zap for one minute.  (If the leaves are charred, try again and use a shorter amount of time. If the leaves aren’t crisp, microwave longer in 15-second increments.)  Remove from the microwave and air dry on the kitchen counter for a few days.  Store in a labeled glass jar.  

Are home grown vegetables better for you than those found in the grocery? Barbara says some research showed up to a 15 percent increase in nutrients in homegrown and organic vegetables.  Some other studies didn’t find an increase in nutrients. 

Many thanks go to Barbara for her research and common sense approach to healthy eating.  Let’s just put it this way: on the way home I stopped at Whole Foods and bought spinach, broccoli, and almonds for dinner.   


Recipes served in the class will follow.

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