Edible gardens at the elementary schools

In the Princeton Public Schools’ elementary school gardens, children grow, prepare and taste everything from raspberries to bok choy, beets to garlic. They start seeds, bulbs, tubers and cuttings. They prune apple trees, hand-pollinate eggplants, and turn compost. They dig potatoes and rub dried popcorn off the cob. They test the soil for nutrient content and temperature, observe the effects of light and shade on leaves, and plot how fast the pea vines grow. They prepare overwintering boxes for butterflies and watch praying mantis egg cases hatch.

Through tending the garden, students learn ecology, plant and earth sciences, social studies and nutrition and palate development; and they practice what they are learning in other subject areas, such as math, reading, Spanish and art.

Through preparing and eating foods they have grown, students become inspired and empowered to make deliciously healthy and environmentally sustainable choices.

Through sharing the results of their garden projects, students build self-confidence and a sense of ownership in their schools. Through collaborating with local farms and environmental organizations, students make connections to the greater community.

Our teachers:

• have access to an abundance of teaching opportunities right outside their classrooms;

• see immediate and sustained results and benefits for students of all learning styles;

• are winning acclaim in the community for their development of innovative garden-based programs.

Our community:

• enthusiastically supports the garden programs with both copious volunteer time and funding.


Each of the PPS elementary schools – Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook, and Riverside — is moving on a unique yet parallel path, integrating the gardens into the school experience. Crucially, each school has a part-time garden educator or manager, hired through the PTO, whose expertise and skills are leveraged to help the teachers incorporate garden experiences into the curriculum.

This integration is designed to provide all children a foundation for moving on the John Witherspoon Middle School, where our JW Cooks program, a series of hands-on, seed-to-table food literacy classes are being adapted as not-your-mama’s home economics classes.

Growing season begins

April 9, 2014

Peas are up!

FIRST PEA: Snowpeas have emerged from the warming soil of Littlebrook Elementary School Gardens!

Dorothy Mullen

GARDEN EDUCATOR: Dorothy Mullen, co-founder of Princeton School Gardens Cooperative and creator of the state’s leading school gardens at Riverside Elementary School.

Click on this link to see what’s happening at Riverside Elementary School.

Flowers against the sky

IN FULL GLORY: Riverside Elementary School Garden includes edibles, ornamentals and natives, serving K-5 students through the outdoor classroom – and the community, with its year-’round beauty.

Edible Nasturtiums

Herb Garden