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School Garden Outreach Program

Description & Eligibility Information

With generous support from the Newman’s Own Foundation, The Science Engagement Center at the Compass School Farm is excited to offer 6 schools the opportunity to build or enhance their own school gardens.

Recipients will be awarded based on the quality their application responses.  The application for the program is available here.

Benefits: Selected schools will receive…

  • A materials grant in the amount of $1,500 to build or enhance a school garden
  • Consultation support from The Compass School Outreach Farmer


  • All schools public and private are eligible to apply for this grant.
  • The school principal must authorize teachers to utilize the garden during the school day as an instructional resource. A minimum of 3 teachers need to demonstrate commitment to incorporate garden into curriculum
  • Application preference will be given to schools serving the Washington County Area.

Recipient Commitments

  • The school-based coordinator for the project must commit to seeing the grant through to its completion.
  • Each school will assemble a school garden team consisting of both adults and students.
  • The  school-based coordinator agrees to visit the Compass School Farm with the school garden team during the planning phase of the school garden design.
  • The school agrees to incorporate students in the garden including but not limited to the planning, design, build, maintenance plan, and decision-making process (as appropriate by age).  
  • The school commits to organizing at least 2 community garden build days which include students, families, and teachers.
  • The school-based coordinator commits to completing the end of grant report that summarizes the successes and challenges of the garden build experience. The Compass School will offer a template which will include both narrative and photo elements.
  • The school garden team must develop a 3 year plan for maintenance of garden during summer vacation.  This plan must demonstrate coordination with school facilities and maintenance staff as well as any outside landscaping services hired.


2017-2018 Compass School Garden Outreach Program Summary:

23 schools applied to our garden outreach grant funded by Newman’s Own Foundation.  Christine Skaggs (head of the health/wellness/safety committee), John O’Malley (recently appointed outreach farmer funded by the Newman’s Own Foundation grant) and Brandee Lapisky, Director of The Compass School, gathered together last week to review the applications.  They were impressive.

In reading through the applications, the team realized that we have great potential to do some incredibly important social responsibility work through this project. We are only able to fund six this year, so we selected them carefully with the following goals in mind:

  • Include some strategic districts that will help with the charter-district relationship building effort
  • Represent a balance of urban and suburban
  • Work with a mix of those who have no garden and those who want to improve upon what they have started
  • Reach out to some schools where we can be the expert and some schools where we can learn a thing or two
  • Select a few whose students’ stories tugged at our heartstrings




With that in mind, here’s the list of who we  funded this year (in no particular order) and a quick excerpt from their application that offers insight to why they were chosen:

  1. San Miguel School, Providence:
    “Access to a school garden for our boys is critical to our mission of assisting those most in need of support. Our boys come from some of the most poverty ridden neighborhoods in the state. By having access to a school garden, we are introducing them to the opportunities and possibilities of life beyond the clutches of crime and violence.”

  2. West Kingston Elementary, South Kingstown:
    “The South Kingstown School Department is passionate about increasing resiliency for all their students.  Resiliency is all about meaningful relationships, active participation in activities and reasonable but high expectations.  The development of a community garden at South Kingstown Housing Authority with the West Kingston Elementary School beginning with the financial support from Compass School and their expert gardeners will be a wonderful vehicle to increase resiliency and share a passion for gardening and demonstrate a passion to help our community.”

  3. Davisville Academy, North Kingstown:  
    “Our students come to us due to lack of success in the general education population, often have less than ideal living situations, and need uplifting and therapeutic activities to encourage them and give them optimal conditions and motivation for learning.  Our staff is extremely committed and passionate about our students and providing opportunities for them to enrich their lives and to be successful at something.  Gardening is both therapeutic and a tangible way to see something you’ve created and been a part of.”

  4. Mt. Pleasant High School, Providence:
    The gardens will be maintained by students with special needs in the Birch program.  They’re creating a “reverse inclusion” model where the Birch students will invite the mainstream students to come and learn in the greenhouse.  “Specifically, for the Birch Academy students by helping them  to build their self-esteem and give them ownership of a part of the school.  Instead of being the “guests” in a regular education program, for once they can be the “hosts”.   It would also benefit the mainstream students by showing them that the Birch Academy students have capabilities that can benefit all of society.”

  5. Thompson Middle School, Newport:
    “The garden at TMS has been a labor of love from the beginning. It started when Lisa Olaynack’s young son asked her one day at the farmer’s market, “Why can’t we grow our own vegetables and sell them here, Mom?” He then learned about the nonprofit Katie’s Krops and was even more inspired, leading to Lisa’s students writing a grant to create the garden at TMS. The garden has been transformational in the lives of some of our students, who have raised plants and seen our harvest go to the Martin Luther King Center to help feed our neighbors in need, including some of our own students and their families.”

  6. Meadowbrook Waldorf:  
    Meadowbrook already has a number of practices in place and actually offers some professional development for us!  They have 2 beehives and rabbit hutches in addition to a number of gardening features.  The rationale behind choosing them is to lift up another high-quality environmental program while also learning from them as we do it.