Garden Gathering harvests excitement for school gardens

The Lincoln Public Schools Sustainability Department, along with school and community partners, hosted a Garden Gathering at Mickle Middle School right before the start of the new school year.  Garden Gatherings are held quarterly to allow staff, parents and community partners who support school gardens and outdoor learning to come together to connect and learn from one another.

The location for these gatherings varies. For this particular gathering, Mickle Middle School got the chance to show off its school garden. Katie Hammond, sustainability champion and Mickle science teacher, said the garden is teaming with all sorts of produce, from watermelon, to carrots, to apples, and everything in between. There is also a pollinator garden.

Students at Mickle get a chance to help out in the school garden by weeding, watering, planting, and harvesting - all the basic duties that make a garden successful. They also lend a hand in bigger projects like building new plant beds or painting murals on the rain barrels stationed throughout the garden. When plants are ready to be harvested, students can also take produce home.

“Almost everything adults do, the students can learn how to do in the garden,” Hammond said. “Many of the skills students pick up in the garden, they have used to start their own garden with their families at home. We couldn't have the Mickle garden without our students, and as teachers and staff we love to see their leadership skills used in their communities in high school.”

Brittney Albin, sustainability coordinator at Lincoln Public Schools, said by holding these garden gatherings at a different school or community garden every quarter, those in attendance can learn some new techniques and gain some ideas to take back to their own gardens.

“Gardens at our schools provide many benefits for the students and for the surrounding community. Students have an opportunity to connect with nature and learn about planting a variety of options like vegetables, fruits, pollinators, and flowers,” Albin said. “Community Gardens are particularly great because some of our families may not have the space or resources to garden at home, so the school can become a place to use those skills and connect with others.”

Albin said the use for these school and community gardens can also expand past just planting and harvesting.

“We love to see gardens include seating and become outdoor classrooms. Whether it is reading an article, drawing for an art class, or observing insects, there are all sorts of opportunities for regular classes to take their lessons outside.”

This idea has already taken hold at Mickle, where an expansion project is in the works to make the area surrounding the garden into an outdoor learning space, complete with a pergola, shade, tables, and flexible seating. Cement paths and an ADA-accessible raised garden bed will also be installed to give all students better opportunity to care for the garden.

Anyone who wants to help support gardens and outdoor learning activities at LPS schools can reach out to a specific school directly or they are welcome to contact the Sustainability Office at

The LPS Sustainability Department also has their first ever School Gardens and Outdoor Learning intern, Jackson Farho, who is ready to assist with any and all school garden needs.

“School gardens are a complex system of community partners, education, resources and local needs”, Farho said. “As we move into the school year, I look forward to continuing to provide for those needs, ensuring meaningful use for these beautiful spaces. I can do that by attending garden clubs, responding to questions or requests, and providing outdoor learning resources. Put simply, if there is anything you need for your garden, contact me!”

You can contact Jackson by email at 

Published: August 26, 2022, Updated: August 30, 2022