Starting a Vegetable Garden


Whether this is your first attempt at gardening or your fifth, it’s always helpful to have guidance from the experts. Tips to help you start a vegetable garden: includes planting guides, how to build a raised bed, step-by-step guides to planting a vegetable garden and suggested plant varieties for certain climates. Dig in and have fun!

Your Edible Garden: Sunset Magazine

This resource offers a beginner’s guide, lists cool and warm season crops, garden design tips, suggestions from other gardeners and other information to start growing your own fruits and vegetables.

Your First Vegetable Garden – The Garden of OZ


How to build a raised garden bed: Sunset Magazine

A step-by-step guide showing how to build a raised bed. Includes a photo of each step.


How to Start a Vegetable Garden: The Weekend Gardener


Getting Started with Home Grown Food


When, and where to plant vegetables in your garden – Renee’s Garden (specific to regions with Long Summers and Mild Winters)


Starting Your First Vegetable Garden


Warm and Cool Season Crop Charts (when to plant what): Santa Clara County Master Gardeners


Food Gardening Guide: National Gardening Association


Information on Organic Gardening: UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agro ecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Crop-specific information and general gardening information.



 School Gardens

How to Start a School Garden


You have an empty piece of prime real estate at your school that is perfect for a school garden, but are overwhelmed by the idea of starting a garden and do not know where to begin. Below are guides and step-by-step resources to help you start a successful school garden program involving students, teachers and administration.


Crop Circles: California Regions for Optimal Planting - California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom


Getting Started, A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms: Center for Ecoliteracy


Starting School Gardens FAQ: California School Garden Network


Resources for Planting and Maintaining a School Garden: Life Lab


Let’s Get Growing: Gardening How To – California School Garden Network

A summary of the Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden Training Model and simple advice for starting a school garden project.


School Garden Wizard: Chicago Botanical Garden


School Gardens Materials and Resource Guide – Monterey County Farm to School Partnership


Gardens for Learning: California School Garden Network

How to start a school garden program and highlights of California schools with school garden programs.


School Garden Program Overview: California Department of Education


School Garden Curricula and Meeting State Standards in the Garden

If you are looking for ways to link your garden lesson or school garden program with California State Standards, these resources can tell you which lessons and types of lessons meet which standard. There are also ideas and lists of garden activities/lessons.


Linking State Standards to Your School Garden: CFAITC

Garden activities and the state standards with which they correspond.


55 Resources for Learning Lessons: Food Land and People. Brief descriptions of garden education lessons for K-12


A Child’s Garden of Standards: Linking School Gardens to California State Education Standards (California Department of Education)

Grades 2 - 6


Introduction to Nutrition and Gardening: California Department of Education


Cooking and Eating: Eat Well for Nutrition, In the Garden – California School Garden Network


Kids Cook Farm Fresh Food: California Department of Education

In depth lesson plans for planting certain crops in your school garden, cooking them and learning about them.


Discovering the Food System: An experiential learning program for young and inquiring minds - Cornell


Curriculum: California School Garden Network


Puget Sound School Gardens Collective


San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance

Support and advocacy organization for school gardens.


Farm to School Program: Community Alliance for Family Farms (CAFF)


The Edible Schoolyard


Resources from Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Trainings



 Youth Programs


These programs listed below are youth development programs that engage youth in gardening and sustainable agriculture projects to foster strong relationships and build leadership and life skills.


Rooted in Community (RIC) National Network – youth gardening and community empowerment organization 


Food What? – Life Lab youth program


Great Kids Farm – Baltimore City Public Schools


The Food Project – Boston


Cultivating Community

Youth internship program, immigrant/refugee incubator program,

school garden help, and  community gardens


Urban Sprouts

A San Francisco, urban agriculture education organization that works in SF schools, runs a summer program called Summer Sprouts and a garden education program for adjudicated young men in a residential treatment and rehabilitation facility


School Year Gardens: A Toolkit fro High Schools to Grow Food from September to June – The Richmond Fruit Tree Project


The Youth Farm and Market Project

A youth development program in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.


      Community Gardens

Starting a Community Vegetable Garden: New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service


Starting a Community Garden: American Community Gardening Association


Community Garden Start-Up Guide: University of California Cooperative Extension


Bringing Community Gardens To Redwood City, CA

Tips and resources to help start a community garden in your community/city.


Community Gardens as Apple Seeds


Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB) Community and Youth Gardening Program


Jones Valley Urban Farm

Community and school educational and urban farm. K-12 education programs, farmers markets and a CSA.


City Slicker Farms

A Community and Backyard Gardening Organization



 Composting and Soil


If you’re looking for ways to use your home or school food waste, see if composting is an option. It can reduce your waste and provide a natural fertilizer for your home or school garden. It can be a great lesson in many science topics for students and can also greatly improve your soil.


Compost Guide: Tips for Home Composting


Composting Fundamentals


The Basics of Composting – The Garden of OZ


Composting and Mulching; A Guide to Managing Yard Wastes – University of Minnesota


Composting: Natural Resources Defense Council


Master Composter


Santa Clara County Waste Reduction and Composting


How to Improve Clay Soils with Compost: Fine Gardening


University of Massachusetts Soil Test Lab

Send your school or community garden soil to this lab for as little as $9 to make sure there are no toxic substances in your soil.


      Container Gardening

Guide to Container Gardening: Describes different vegetables, container size needed and recommended varieties.


15 Creative Container Garden Ideas: ways to container garden using household items


Turn Trash into Container Garden Pots




There are many hardware stores, garden supply stores and national health, nutrition and gardening focused companies that support and often sponsor garden projects. If you are looking for funding for a school or community garden project look at these funding resources.


Youth Garden Grants: National Gardening Association


Grants and Grant Writing: SF Green Schoolyard Alliance


Seeds of Change Seed Donations

Seeds of Change donates some of their seeds to non-profit and school gardens. Donation requests are accepted from Jan 1st to March 1st.


Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb Garden Grant



 Local Garden-related Volunteer Opportunities in Santa Clara County


Bronco Urban Gardens

Volunteer at Bronco Urban Gardens’ The Forge garden near Santa Clara University’s campus every Wednesday and Saturday from 2-5


Collective Roots

Join Collective Roots at their community/school garden at the East Palo Alto Charter School for their monthly garden workday.


Community Alliance with Family Farms (CAFF)

Help CAFF with one of their many school garden/farm field trips or work on another food system related project.


Full Circle Farm

Join the garden staff Wednesdays and Saturdays in the garden from 10am to dark or help with their farm stand, chicken care or other volunteer opportunities.


Guadalupe River Park Conservancy

Volunteer along the Guadalupe River in San Jose helping with their various gardens or other conservation projects.


The HEAL Project

Contact the HEAL Project in Half Moon Bay about volunteer opportunities.


La Mesa Verde

Help install backyard Gardens through this program which is a project of Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose. Contact Sacred Heart to find out about upcoming volunteer opportunities.



Join the Veggielution crew at their community farm in Emma Prusch Park in San Jose. Volunteer workdays are Tuesday 8:30am – 10am, Wednesday 2pm – 6pm, Thursday 8:30am – 10am and Saturday 10am -12:30pm



Local Resources – Santa Clara County


The Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County

If you need help or have questions about gardening in Santa Clara County, the Master Gardeners can help you. You can call their hotline, ask them questions online or visit their website and read their numerous tips and explanations.


City of San Jose Community Gardens

The City of San Jose’s community garden program where garden plots are available for rent for city residents. Many gardens have a waitlist so be aware.


City of Mountain View Community Gardens


Charles Street Gardens – Sunnyvale


City of Palo Alto Community Gardens


City of Mountain View – Free, Ready-to-use Compost

Free for residents of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos and Palo Alto


Donate Excess Backyard Produce to Second Harvest


Village Harvest – Excess fruit tree produce



Journey to Forever – School Gardening Resources (long list of kids gardening books )

 **This list was compiled by Kasey Butler of The Health Trust