School Gardens Program

School gardens are important green spaces for learning, discovery and exploration.

These living classrooms help students reconnect with the natural world through observation and exploration of biodiversity, plant life, nature cycles and food literacy. Gardening also improves mental, physical and emotional health, as well as patience, teamwork, and learning to make healthier food choices.

The School Gardens Program strives to connect children and youth to their food, classmates, nature, and community by delivering inclusive and interactive programming on environmental and food literacy education for K-12 schools, municipalities, and not-for-profit organizations during the year.

For inquiries or to book a workshop, please email the School Gardens Program Coordinator, Sharlene at Sharlene@spec.bc.ca

Explore  the online education platform Neighbourhood Nature School. A social space where anyone can participate, from the comfort of their home and outside in nature. This resource is ideal for educators and parents seeking nature-based lessons and activities.

Follow us on Instagram for teaching resources and activities.

Program Details

  • Operates during the school year and summer months.
  • Includes 45 minute to 3 hour facilitated sessions/workshops
  • Free curriculum resources 
  • With a focus on the BC Curriculum 
  • School Garden/Ecological Literacy lessons (K-12)
  • Camp Programs (5-19 yr)
  • Garden Site Assessments
  • Out-of-School care programs
  • Workshops (all ages)
  • Training/mentorship for educators 
  • Climate Friendly Gardening 
  • First Peoples Principles
  • Garden Design/Planning 
  • Life/Seasonal Cycles
  • Insects
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 
  • Organic Gardening practices 
  • Pollination 
  • Seed Saving 
  • Soil Science
  • STEM linked to the  BC Curriculum


SPEC volunteers started the School Gardens Program over fifteen years ago to introduce food gardens and education to school age children and youth. Since the inception of the program, we have helped establish food gardens, supported food literacy, and led environmental education lessons in over 20+ different schools across Vancouver. The Program continues to adapt and expand to other communities and school districts to proactively respond to both educator needs and current environmental issues.

Schools and Communities We've Worked With:

Admiral Seymour Elementary – Bayview Community School –  Britannia Community Elementary – Britannia Secondary – Burnaby Village Museum – Carnarvon Elementary – Champlain Heights Community School – Eastside Family Place – École  des Colibris – Garibaldi Annex – General Brock Elementary – Grandview Woodland Food Connection – Henry Hudson Elementary School – Hillcrest Community Centre – Insight Global Education – John Norquay Elementary – KidSafe Project Society –  Kitsilano Secondary School – L’Ecole Bilingue – Little Mountain Neighbourhood House – Lord Selkirk Elementary – Queen Elizabeth Elementary – Queen Mary Elementary – Richmond Youth Addition Services Society – Riley Park Community Garden – Samuel Brighouse Elementary – Simon Fraser Elementary – Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School – Southlands Elementary – St. George’s School –  Thunderbird Elementary -Tillicum Community Annex School


"I have been thoroughly impressed with the garden workshops that my class has participated in this spring, including the lesson planning, hands-on learning, student engagement, and the passionate and knowledgeable educators who have led the School Gardens Program. Not only were the students able to participate in preparing and introducing new seeds into the school’s garden beds, but our students were then also connected to the near-by community garden, so as to engage with tangible learning opportunities each week. We explored everything from pollinators, to insects, to Indigenous medicinal plants, to symbiotic relationships in the garden, and much more. The school garden’s program facilitator had age appropriate learning materials to enhance every one of their lessons."
Teacher Testimonial


Acme Delivery Company

BC Gaming Community Grant

Federal Government via Canada Summer Jobs

The Hamber Foundation

WSC logo

School Parents and Individual Donors

Curriculum Resource: Green Thumbs at School

SPEC believes quality education on food literacy should be accessible to all. That’s why we created Green Thumbs at School: SPEC Food Garden Lesson Book,  a free resource. The lesson book consists of 9 lesson plans for teachers with activity sheets and 12 colourful posters on soils, worms, composting, seeds, pollinators, and more.

The lessons support the BC Ministry of Education Integrated Resource Package (IRP) Guidelines for Science. Several of these lessons have been translated to French and you can find them here: Lesson 3, lesson 7 and lesson 9.

Two activity sheets in french from lesson 8 (translated by Françoise Raunet) on insect anatomy and insect life cycles

The development of the Green Thumbs at School lesson book was made possible by funding provided by the Vancouver Foundation.

Garden Site Assessments: For New and Existing Outdoor Learning Spaces

SPEC provides one-on-one consultations for new or existing  school gardens through a site assessment (September to October and March only). The consultation consists of an on-site visit to discuss and determine best garden locations, aspect, water sources, crop planning, addressing climate adaptability, composting systems, infastructure, and materials sourcing and funding sources. Virtual site assessments are available as well (pricing varies). 

 A follow-up written report  is included. Consultations are $150.

Please choose from one of two options for the site visit questionnaire.