At Holiday Heights Elementary School near Fort Worth, Texas, what was once a patch of Bermuda grass has become a hub for active learning. Students regularly head to the school garden to learn about plant science, look for migrating Monarch butterflies, write poetry inspired by nature, or check on the potato crop that they will donate to a community food bank.

“Many of these children haven’t had a lot of experiences in the outdoors,” says Scott Smith, a lifelong gardener who doubles as a math and science teacher and garden coordinator at Holiday Heights, a Title I school serving about 700 students from pre-K to fifth grade. “When they go to the garden, they are fully engaged.”

That engagement is no accident. The Holiday Heights garden — complete with tree house, raised beds, and fish pond — is one of about 100 developed in partnership with¬†REAL School Gardens. The nonprofit organization, with offices in Texas and Washington, DC, promotes “learning gardens” to boost academic success of low-income children. As part of the model that it has spent a decade cultivating, REAL School Gardens also provides long-term professional development for teachers.¬† Read more here.

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