Give STL Day 2018

Support the Future of St. Louis Community Gardens on St. Louis Gives Day 2018

The Power of Growing Food


About Give STL DayChild enthusiastically eats greens.

Give STL Day is a 24-hour day of online giving happening this year on May 2. It is an opportunity for Gateway Greening to invite the community of St. Louis to help us further the work that we do.

Gateway Greening supports more than 200 community and school gardens in the St. Louis area, that do more than provide a beautifying space in communities. They connect residents of all ages and backgrounds to their food and to each other. Gardens provide joyful spaces where people can interact and share their lives and the fresh food that they grow.


Ways to Participate

Visit on May 2, 2018 and give.  

Schedule your donation in advance using a credit card beginning April 9. You will then be charged on May 2.  

Get reminded on May 2 to give: sign up for our email newsletter.

Need a Reminder Email?





    ST. LOUIS (February 23rd, 2018)- Students in Gateway Greening’s Seed to STEM program keep growing thanks to a $205,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund for 2018-2019.

    Gateway Greening has a long history of assisting St. Louis schools to fund and support school gardens. To help teachers effectively use the garden as an outdoor classroom and learning laboratory, Gateway Greening educators developed the Seed to STEM program.

    “The Monsanto Fund grant makes it possible for Gateway Greening educators to provide weekly Seed to STEM lessons in five St. Louis Public Schools. Seed to STEM is a hands-on K-5 science curriculum that uses school gardens to reinforce Next Generation Science Standards, develop scientific inquiry skills, and inspire students to connect to their environment, food system and community,” said Lucy Herleth, Gateway Greeening’s School Program Manager. “With the Monsanto Fund grant, Gateway Greening is also able to support over 60 youth gardens as well as offer  monthly educator workshops, district professional development and site-specific trainings.

    The Seed to STEM curriculum is also available free to anyone that works with youth through the Gateway Greening website and its monthly educator email newsletter. Gateway Greening estimates that its school garden programs, along with the Seed to STEM initiative, have empowered more than 13,000 students across the St. Louis region to garden.

    Lauren Hollis, a teacher at Clay Academy, said it takes “confidence” for educators to garden successfully with their students.

    “In the beginning, I was so scared I was going to kill the plants,” said Hollis.  “Now I have the experience and someone to answer questions.  After going to the garden (for the past year), I would totally teach any lesson outside with confidence and not be worried.”

    She also said gardening helps students to understand that food doesn’t just magically appear at the grocery store.

    “Gardens help the students learn more about their environment and learn where their food is from,” she added.  “Gardens help them see a process – a plant growing or a pumpkin decomposing.”

    Clay Academy’s school garden was founded in 1993 and with the support of Gateway Greening educators and the Monsanto Fund, it has become a thriving outdoor classroom.  Additionally, continued support from the Monsanto Fund will allow Gateway Greening to expand the Seed to STEM curriculum so that more teachers and students throughout the St. Louis region will have access to the program.



    Gateway Greening,, educates and empowers people to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture. Led by Executive Director Matt Schindler, the organization supports over 200 community gardens and food projects as well as 60 school gardens in the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area.


    The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at


    School Program Manager Lucy Herleth visiting Ms. Hayes’ fourth grade class at Gateway Elementary to help students plan which crops to grow in their school garden.

    Teacher Spotlight: Lauren Hollis

    Interview with Lauren Hollis, a teacher at Clay Academy in St. Louis, MO., about how she personally became involved in the school’s garden. 

    Educator Lauren Hollis standing with her class in front of Clay Academy’s gazebo in the school garden.


    How long have you been gardening personally? How long have you been gardening with students?

    Probably just 2 years. My parents have a pretty big garden. My mom just got started gardening but we’re both rookies. We Pinterest a lot of things.


    Were you hesitant to get outside at first?

    For sure. Taking the kids anywhere outside the classroom is a little bit nerve-racking. They have so much room to run and it makes me nervous. But the more you expose them to the outdoors, the more they listen and are familiar with it. I have learned a lot – I give my mom tips now, tried new foods like bok choy.  

    I have to be a leader and try what is growing in the garden.  If I don’t try it, the kids are going to just say, “no thanks.”


    What is your students’ favorite part of gardening?

    Exposing them to the outdoors. Getting them to try new foods, teaching them about their environment and what plants and animals need.


    What is your favorite thing to plant with your students?

    Tomatoes because they don’t really try tomatoes for lunch. They are not open to trying tomatoes, sauce, or in the salads at lunch. In the garden, they pick the tomatoes and they eat them just fine. Even if they don’t like them the first time, you let them try the tomatoes again. They still may not like them but they are willing to try them. Even the kale. They wouldn’t eat that normally but they will in the garden.


    Why do you believe school gardening is important?

    Gardens help the students learn more about their environment and learn where their food is from. Not all of their food comes from the grocery store or magically appears. Kids don’t get out very much or get to garden on their own. Gardens help them see a process – a plant growing or a pumpkin decomposing.


    What do you think teachers need the most in order to garden successfully?

    Confidence. In the beginning, I was so scared I was going to kill all the plants. Now I have experience and someone to answer questions. After going to the garden (for the past year) I would totally teach any lesson outside with confidence and not be worried. If I wouldn’t have gone to the garden every Wednesday, that never would have happened. I now can expose them to learning outdoors more.


    Do you have a favorite garden book?

    The Leaf Man. I love reading the story and letting them go find leaves. The things they turn the leaves into, even at this young of an age, is incredible.


    What are you excited to try this coming growing season?

    Plant things that I’ve never heard of or the kids have never heard of. Things that the kids are not exposed to. Next week we’re trying radishes. I am excited for them to try a radish. If they can eat Flaming Hot Cheetos, they can try a spicy radish.


    What is your advice for other school gardeners?

    Have confidence and just get out there. The more you are out there, the better your kids will acclimate to being outside.  They need more exposure to the outdoors than the playground.


    Looking for more ways to incorporate the school garden into your lesson plan? Stop by:

    • Gateway Greening’s Workshops for Educators page to explore monthly workshops that address the challenges and opportunities represented by teaching in school gardens
    • The Gateway Greening Educators Facebook group to connect with other teachers throughout St. Louis with similar interests in school gardens
    • Check out our In the School Garden Youtube playlist for short, actionable how-to videos that are seasonally relevant.

    Engineers in the School Garden

    engineers at work
    Fourth grade students writing out their hypothesis for a recent experiment. During the experiment, students discovered how cold frames built of different materials affected soil warmth.

    Engineer at work!
    Fourth Grade Student posing with her structure.

    As the weather gets colder, time in the garden gets shorter. However, indoor lessons can still have garden connections! Throughout December, the fourth-graders at Gateway Elementary observed and measured how different materials affected soil warmth. After discovering that cold frames effectively raised the soil temperature, they wanted to engineer their own solutions.


    To become engineers, the fourth-graders first needed construction materials. Without knowing what they were going to create, the students had just a few minutes to collect natural materials from the school garden. Some groups scooped up as many pebbles as possible while others hunted for a few perfect sticks. Once inside, Gateway Greening Educator Tonia Scherer tasked half the class to create a waterproof structure and the other half to build a sturdy, windproof structure. Some students struggled, while others quickly problem-solved. They realized that certain materials were better for different functions.


    Soon, the fourth-graders learned that engineers also have to work within constraints. Each group was given only one piece of tape and they had to strategically incorporate it. When it was time to test their structures, many stayed sturdy and dry on the inside. The fourth-graders discussed design and material improvements – just like real engineers. In the end, they related their engineering process to cold frames and designs that help to keep garden soil warm in winter months.


    Even in the winter, you can discover real-life examples of science lessons. The winter trimester of Gateway Greening’s Seed to STEM fourth-grade curriculum focuses on ecosystem energy flow, engineering solutions, and scientific writing. All three topics combined in the fourth-graders cold frame and engineering experiment. For more winter lesson ideas, check out the Seed to STEM tab on Gateway Greening’s website.

    Engineers at work!
    Fourth grade students posing with structure they had engineered to withstand wind and water as part of a recent STEM class with Gateway Greening.

    Written by School Program Manager Lucy Herleth

    Looking for more ways to incorporate the school garden into your lesson plan? Stop by:

    • Gateway Greening’s Workshops for Educators page to explore monthly workshops that address the challenges and opportunities represented by teaching in school gardens
    • The Gateway Greening Educators Facebook group to connect with other teachers throughout St. Louis with similar interests in school gardens
    • Check out our In the School Garden Youtube playlist for short, actionable how-to videos that are seasonally relevant.

    Teacher Spotlight: Patti Stogsdill of Patrick Henry Elementary

    Patrick Henry Downtown Academy School Garden Expansion 2016

    Interview with Patti Stogsdill, preschool teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary in St. Louis MO., about how she personally became involved with the school’s garden.

    How long have you been gardening personally, and with your students?

    All of my life because I was raised on a farm. However, I have only been gardening at the school since the Fall of 2016. My husband helps the preschoolers and I do a lot of the work.


    How did you get started with gardening at school?

    We had a garden when I first started working [at Patrick Henry Elementary]. The garden was overgrown with weeds and the person that was in charge had been out on medical leave. However, I believe it needed to be used so Patrick Henry put me in charge.


    What is the most worthwhile part of school gardening?

    Seeing the kids’ joy when they’re out [in the garden]. The teachers don’t utilize it as much as I wish they would but when they do come out and take advantage of the garden they realize how exciting it is.


    What is your favorite thing to plant with your students?

    Sunflower seeds.


    What do teachers need the most in order to use a school garden successfully?

    Just be convinced that it is a worthwhile process. They need a lesson plan that gives them ideas and need to see for themselves how beneficial it is for the children.


    What are you excited to try/do this coming growing season?

    I am excited to try and use cattle fencing to keep our tomatoes from drooping.


    What is your best garden tip?

    Borax and sugar to keep ants away from your plants.


    Interview with Allison Berndt, Education Intern at Gateway Greening, in Fall of 2017.


    Looking for more ways to incorporate the school garden into your lesson plan? Stop by:

    • Gateway Greening’s Workshops for Educators page to explore monthly workshops that address the challenges and opportunities represented by teaching in school gardens
    • The Gateway Greening Educators Facebook group to connect with other teachers throughout St. Louis with similar interests in school gardens
    • Check out our In the School Garden Youtube playlist for short, actionable how-to videos that are seasonally relevant.

    Summer School in the International Garden

    This summer, Gateway Greening Educators Meg Holmes and Lucy Herleth had the opportunity to be a part of the Nahed Chapman New American Academy garden’s story by participating in summer school.


    Meet the International Welcome School Garden

    Blog | International School 2017 Sum 01
    Students stop to check on their newly planted summer crops during a lesson in the International Welcome School Garden.

    “My original question was…Can we provide refugee students with information that can assist them in overcoming the unique challenges that exist in their classrooms?  As the nation’s demographics change, so does our responsibility to meet the needs of this diverse student body.  These students have significant implications for educational and social policy.   One component of the Nahed Chapman New American Academy ecological milieu was to provide avenues for in-depth discussions of practices that can help all students make informed choices when it comes to our environment.  As a result of those discussions, surveys were taken and students decided to plan and grow an International Garden.” – Nelver Brooks, educator and garden leader at the Nahed Chapman New American Academy

    Read the rest of Nelver Brooks original story of the International Garden’s founding: The Journey Begins with Us, on the Gateway Greening Blog.


    Blog 2017 | International Garden 02
    Students transformed weeding into a moment of learning, laughter, and discovery during Summer School in the International Welcome School Garden.

    The first week of summer school, many students visited the school garden for the very first time. They looked around for different parts of plants and noticed how plants changed as they grew. They inspected and planted tiny seeds, crouched down and counted the small seedlings, and looked around for flowers. The best part was when they discovered that the bean plants were ready to harvest. The students picked long green beans and I showed them how to carefully open the pods. Inside of the bean was a surprise – seeds! The plant’s growth was a life cycle, going from seed to seed. The kids then tasted the raw beans or fed them to the worms in the compost bin.” -Lucy Herleth



    Summer School in the International Welcome School Garden

    During the final week of Summer School, we caught up with Meg as she led the students through an exploration of compost and the process of decomposition.

    Meg kicked off each class’s time in the garden with story time beneath the shady trees that line the school’s courtyard. Compost Stew, and A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals is a “rhyming recipe [that] explains how to make the dark, crumbly, rich, earth-friendly food called compost,”  and is a fun way to engage students in a conversation about the compost bins in the International Welcome School Garden.

    After the story, students were invited to share what they had learned, and what they might already know about composting from their home country. Moments like these are a chance to connect concepts and new vocabulary words to hands-on activities. As Meg says, “Outdoor experiential learning [is important] so that when they’re in the classroom, they have scaffolding to hang their experiences on.”

    Curious about the lessons Gateway Greening Educators use in school gardens? Check out our Seed to STEM program on the Gateway Greening website to learn more!

    Summer School students discovering common ground while working together to weed the International Welcome School Garden.

    Things took a laughter-filled turn as students insisted on taking a detour to the planting beds to check on their crops. This summer, the garden is overflowing with okra, corn, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, hot peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, beans, and even wildflowers for the pollinators – all planted by the students. The detour was full of small moments of joy as students discovered new peppers or tomatoes hiding among the leaves.

    Joy has been a regular guest in the International School Garden this summer:

    After learning how plants need food, water, air, and space to grow, the students enthusiastically weeded the corn garden bed. The soil was hard, so it was a struggle to get many of the weeds out by their roots. With each weed, almost every student wanted to show the teachers the plant, waving the weed proudly around. Students even discovered that some weeds at their school looked similar to weeds back in their home country.”  – Lucy Herleth


    Composting at School

    In 2016, the International Welcome School Garden was awarded a three-bin compost system through Gateway Greening’s Garden expansion program. Designed to be easy for people of all sizes and ages to use, the compost bins are perfect for jumping in and exploring during class! Meg made the most of the students’ ‘summer energy’ with a hands-on crash course on how the compost system works.

    One of the many challenges faced by urban gardeners is the constant presence of trash blowing around and the International School sees its fair share blow into the courtyard. During the lesson, Meg had each class picking up debris and deciding whether it belonged in the trash, the recycling, or the compost pile. Within no time at all the students had the garden tidied up and moved on to the next project, but the lesson they learned will continue when they return to the garden this fall.

    Who knows? The Nahed Chapman New American Academy may decide to join the growing number of St. Louis schools who work with students to divert lunch room food scraps to the compost pile in the coming year.


    Worms for Everyone!

    By the end of the lesson, most students had transitioned from “ew!” to “cool!”

    No lesson on composting could be complete without an introduction to some of our favorite decomposers – worms!

    “Vermicomposting systems are easy to set up in the classroom and are a great jumping off point for lessons on energy use, decomposition, habitat, and more.” – Lucy Herleth

    Many of the Academy’s students had never encountered the strange looking, wriggling creatures that are worms before and spent several minutes squealing as their peers bravely agreed to hold them. However, after a few minutes of talking about what worms are and explaining how hard they work to make the garden a healthier, more productive space, many of the students began to calm down and ask if they could hold a worm too.

    Encountering new creatures, learning what they eat and how they live, can be an opportunity for each of the students to practice empathy and other social/emotional skills that are an important part of every child’s development.


    What’s Next?

    Summer school in the International Welcome Garden may have ended for the year, but the lessons will continue this fall when classes resume.

    Not having worked with ESL (English as a Second Language) students before, and always when you have new kids, you are a little apprehensive, but food is a great way to bring people together and it’s a great way to find common ground with anyone.” – Meg Holmes

    Students in the International Garden
    Students from countries all over the world find common ground during Summer School in the International Welcome School Garden.

    Dig It STL Summer 2017 Update


    Dig It STL is Gateway Greening’s teen employment program where teens work for eight weeks on building knowledge about urban agriculture, food access issues, and community leadership.


    On Dig It STL’s first day the team played a game where they had to name another team member when a blue tarp was lowered between them. The team, initially shy, warmed up as they raced to shout an opponent’s name as soon as their head peeked over the tarp. While the game is fun and spontaneous, it also serves a vital purpose in helping the crew begin to feel comfortable with each other.

    The teens come into the program unfamiliar with each other and with a variety of interests. Some teens come into the program passionate about the environment and wanting to save the world. Others are interested in plants and growing food. And many want to learn public speaking and leadership skills.

    Alana, a crew leader for Dig It STL.

    First Week

    In the Dig It STL program, the teens learn about all of these things and more. During the first week of the program the crew created a community contract. This contract details the ways they will treat each other and themselves. They also did a variety of icebreakers and team building activities so that the crew can begin to bond.

    The program includes frequent workshops that focus on environmental, interpersonal, and farming skills. They range from Soils 101 to learning how to give a great elevator speech.

    “My favorite part is the workshops because you get to see environmental science concepts applied to agriculture,” said Joe, a Dig It STL crew leader.

    The teens also receive feedback from staff and other fellow crew members during an exercise they call “straight talk.” During straight talk, the teens also cultivate emotional intelligence by reflecting on their own progress and goals.

    But it’s not all workshops and team building for the Dig It STL teens. They also take field trips to local farms, gardens and organizations. Joe says that he is particularly excited to visit Flower Hills Farm, a sustainable and organic flower farm. The field trips are designed for teens to learn more about sustainable agriculture.  They also get to see the variety of opportunities available to them in the field.

    Daily Work

    However, most of the work that the teens do revolves around keeping the Gateway Greening Urban Farm running. They do a lot of weeding, watering, and harvesting, as well as learning the practices required to keep an urban farm running. These practices include irrigation, natural pest control, and crop rotation.

    Drachen, a Dig It STL teen, weeds.

    All of this knowledge will aid the crew as they perform their final project as Dig It STL members, a teen led harvest. This will be the first year that the program will culminate in a teen led harvest. This will ensure that the teens both understand sustainable agriculture practices and have gained leadership skills through the program.

    “The harvest will allow the teens to use the leadership skills they’ve gained, as well as use their knowledge about agriculture in a self-directed way,” said Carolyn, teen programs coordinator.

    Program Goals

    Ultimately though, building a loving community in which the teens can learn to both respect others and themselves is the goal of the program. Building community is vital in creating a city where people can collaborate to eliminate hunger and inequality. Within a loving community, it is possible to address these large issues because people are committed to the mission and each other, regardless of individual differences that could otherwise cause division and fragmentation.

    Though not all of the teens will become best friends, that’s not the point. Fostering redeeming goodwill for all does not require friendship or affection, just commitment to improving the city and community one lives in. And solving issues like hunger requires such a commitment. Food and the natural world create connection.

    And no one says that better than Alana, a crew leader of Dig It STL.

    Malaak, a Dig It STL teen, harvests.

    “When you bring people together in the outdoors, they bond.”












    We added a high school internship program to Dig It StL, read more here:


    From School Year to Summer with Dig It STL

    Blog | School Year to Summer 05/2017 01
    Dig It STL 2017 Interns installed new beds in the Demonstration Garden made from upcycled materials found in the local community.

    This week, our first year of Dig It school year internships came to a close as our interns graduated from high school. In the 2016/2017 school year, our crew of 16 seniors from McKinley, Collegiate, and Soldan high schools racked up a cool 560 hours of service on the Gateway Greening farm, and they can see the impact. The garlic they planted in the fall is almost ready to be harvested, the fruit trees they pruned are filled with tiny green cherries, plums, and peaches, and in the words of one intern, “It’s sad we have to leave just when it’s getting good out here!”

    Our teens explored a wide range of topics this year, including hunger and food insecurity, no-till soil management, medicinal herbs, and food policy. This highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of urban agriculture, and the connections between our farm and the diverse fields of ecology, biology, food science, public health, and business or nonprofit management. These are topics many teens don’t even know they’re interested in! One intern said, “I just signed up for this internship so that my friend wouldn’t be the only one at the info session, but Dig It has been interesting and fun and had made me more interested in environmental farming.”

    Working on the farm also allowed interns an opportunity to reflect on their own health and habits. During our last-day reflection, many of our interns said they felt inspired to eat more fresh foods after this experience, and to seek out food grown organically, despite the fact that healthy eating was not a topic we explicitly covered. Some students came to the farm right after a difficult chemistry class and expressed how relaxing and peaceful it was to be able to spend part of the day outdoors, a feeling substantiated by research on green space and mental health
    Blog | School to summer with Dig It 5/2017
    Just as the soil food web in this no-till bed interns researched and implemented supports a spinach seedling, may the web of connections and experiences students had on the farm support them as they grow.

    Work-based learning programs like this can result in higher lifetime earnings and better postsecondary outcomes for youth, and we are incredibly grateful to the Career and College Readiness team at Saint Louis Public Schools for their support. However, Dig It STL school year internships benefit Gateway Greening as well. We have the opportunity to train the next wave of nonprofit staff and citizens that will keep our St. Louis food projects running for the long haul. Young people who never would have sought us out on their own have the opportunity to realize that they are interested in our mission. Even if our interns never set foot on a farm again, we hope we have cultivated an affection for land and food that sticks with the students for life.

    PS: We’re excited that two of our school year interns, Adam and Caroline, were hired onto the summer Dig It STL crew! Stay tuned for more when the Dig It STL summer session kicks off on June 14th.


    Written by Carolyn Cosgrove-Payne, Teen Programs Coordinator


    Discover more about the Dig It STL Program: 

    April on the Urban Farm with Dig It STL
    A Semester in the Dig It STL Internship Program
    No-Till Proposal by Dig It STL
    USDA Awards Grant to Support Green Jobs for St. Louis Teens

    Salad Party in the School Garden!

    salad party 01
    Students look forward to the end-of-year salad party, when they can eat the produce they have worked so hard to grow in the school garden.


    Gateway Greening’s “Power of Growing Food” was exemplified at Shaw VPA’s end of year salad party in the school garden. After a St. Louis spring of unusual weather, planting and replanting crops that did not make it due to weather or friends that live in the garden, watering and weeding, the 2nd graders at Shaw VPA finally gained a full harvest out of all of their diligence and hard work.


    Harvesting for the Salad Party

    Students harvested produce they had cultivated in the school garden to create their salads.

    A running theme discussed with students at Shaw VPA throughout the school year was the parts and functions of a plant. The end result was that by this spring, instead of just harvesting a specific crop, the students were asked to harvest different plant parts from their crops. When asked to pick a plant part that they’d like to eat, the students exclaimed “seeds!” and “fruit!” before heading for the peas! They have been watching the life cycle of the peas closely for Gateway Greening’s First Peas to the Table Challenge. Students are instructed to harvest the most plump pea pods. The peas always end up a favorite because they soon realize the author of First Peas to the Table, Susan Gribsby, says, the peas are as sweet as candy.

    After harvesting their peas, the students wanted to add flowers to their salads. To continue with observing the life cycle of a plant and encourage pollinators in our garden, we have allowed one section of our radishes to flower. Radish flowers, as one student describes, taste like sweet, spicy broccoli and made for a great addition to the salad.

    Staying with the radishes, students went underground to the next plant part, roots. I’m always surprised by how willing the students are to try anything and how much they love radishes!

    At this point, we were missing a big ingredient to our salad: leaves of course! As a group we found that the lettuce had formed perfect heads, and then tried different methods of harvesting the lettuce. In the end, the students attempted the cut and come method, just taking a leaf here and there as I assisted by harvesting an entire head.     


    Clean-up in the School Garden is a Snap!

    Blog | Salad Party 2017 02
    Clean up after the salad party was a snap, with second graders lining up for a chance to clean their dishes.

    Once the students had thoroughly rinsed their harvest, they each tore up their own ingredients into bite sized pieces, tasting each item as they added it to their bowl. At this point I usually hear some requests for ranch dressing during our yearly salad party. To encourage the student to try new things, I  prepared a simple Vinaigrette dressing in advance. (Equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with a shake of salt and pepper!) The students are always adventurous, taking a little taste at first before realizing it tastes pretty good! Usually they end up requesting more. By the end of the year, these kids have some refined pallets.   

    After eating, any leftovers are taken to the compost bin. Not much was added to the compost bin after the salad party, the salad was such a hit. All that was left were dirty dishes, and that was quickly resolved by making a tub of soapy water. The second graders washed and rinsed their dishes before stacking them neatly.

    Having a salad party allowed the students to truly get a chance to admire and enjoy all of their hard work from start to finish, seed to table.


    Written by Meg Holmes, Youth Educator at Gateway Greening


    Need quick tips on what (and how) to harvest for a salad party in your school garden this May? Check out this short video – This Week in the School Garden: Salad Party!


    Looking for more ways to incorporate the school garden into your lesson plan? Stop by:

    • Gateway Greening’s Workshops for Educators page to explore monthly workshops that address the challenges and opportunities represented by teaching in school gardens
    • The Gateway Greening Educators Facebook group to connect with other teachers throughout St. Louis with similar interests in school gardens
    • Check out our In the School Garden Youtube playlist for short, actionable how-to videos that are seasonally relevant.

    May Chicks in the School Garden

    Students at Clay Elementary were excited to spend time watching over baby chicks this week – and learning about life cycles as they did so.

    Discovering Life Cycles

    Spring in the school garden means new growth and discoveries! While the students are busy noticing changes in the garden, special visitors have arrived at Clay Elementary to teach the students about life cycles. Gateway Greening partners with University of Missouri Extension, Jefferson County, to provide chicken eggs and incubators to the Clay Elementary preschool, kindergarten, and second grade classrooms.


    Incubating Chicks in the Classroom

    During the first week the incubators were kept in the classroom, where students expectantly monitored and turned the eggs three times a day. They observed that the incubators kept the chicken eggs at a toasty 98 degrees and watched videos to learn how the embryo changes inside of the egg. The kindergarteners even learned that the yolk sac gives the embryo nourishment to grow, just like the seed provides food for a plant embryo in the garden.

    Student at Clay Elementary carefully holding a newly hatched chick – part of a hands-on lesson in life cycles.

    The following monday, real excitement began in the incubators! The second graders’ chicks were ambitious, with one chick fully hatching before the students arrived at school. Throughout the day the second grade’s eggs continued to hatch until they had ten cheeping chicks. The preschoolers and kindergarteners were disappointed. No chicks had hatched in their classrooms, not even a crack had appeared.

    The next day, the preschoolers and kindergarteners nervously checked their eggs – and cracks had started on a few of the eggs! The egg tooth, the part of the beak that helps a chick break open its egg, was even visible in a few of the cracks. Throughout the day, the preschoolers and kindergarteners observed as more eggs cracked and chicks appeared. They were worried when the chicks looked wet and sticky, but under the warm incubator lights the chicks quickly dried out until they were fluffy and yellow.

    When the chicks fully dried out, they were carefully moved into a bigger box while the students eagerly monitored the chicks and listened to their “cheeps” to figure out if they were content in their new home. Finally, the students learned how to gently and safely handle the chicks. Happily, the chicks were as soft as they looked!


    What happens next?

    In the coming week, Clay Elementary students will observe how the chicks rapidly grow. The second graders are measuring and weighing the chicks, and the kindergarteners and preschoolers are studying what chicks need to survive. Before the end of the school year, full grown chickens will visit, so students can see just how much chickens change over their life cycle.

    Written by Lucy Herleth, Gateway Greening Youth Educator

    Looking for more ways to incorporate the school garden into your lesson plan? Stop by:

    • Gateway Greening’s Workshops for Educators page to explore monthly workshops that address the challenges and opportunities represented by teaching in school gardens
    • The Gateway Greening Educators Facebook group to connect with other teachers throughout St. Louis with similar interests in school gardens
    • Check out our In the School Garden Youtube playlist for short, actionable how-to videos that are seasonally relevant.