Grow Garden Grow is a school garden support organization that promotes the creation of sustainable school gardens across North Texas. Over the last 10 years, the Grow Garden Grow team has directly supported 36 school gardens. Grow Garden Grow’s mission – “Growing a healthier world, one garden at a time” – is driven by its four guiding pillars: Consult, Train, Build, and Sustain. They provide resources to ensure that each school is getting the most out of their garden, both inside and outside of the classroom. Their school garden curriculum is used by a number of national organizations, and they have been invited to present their work at various conferences and symposiums.
Kim Aman, executive director of Grow Garden Grow, is a seventh-generation farmer with 30 years of experience as an educator. Aman, also known as Farmer Kim, first got the idea for Grow Garden Grow after seeing the success of a garden she started at Moss Haven Elementary School in Richardson ISD. She partnered with American Heart Association, Whole Kids Foundation, USDA, Slow Food USA, Dallas County Master Gardeners, and local businesses to support the program. From then on, Farmer Kim has been spreading her passion for teaching and gardening by helping more communities experience the wide range of benefits offered by school gardens.
Grow Garden Grow’s four guiding pillars (Consult, Train, Build, and Sustain) are not just appealing words, but truly guide their work for each project. Notably, the “Consult” and “Train” steps ensure that the garden is relevant and sustainable for the community. They prioritize the goals and vision a school may have for a garden and work to create a program that will make a difference in the community. They train community members on best practices for maintaining a garden and help teachers connect their curriculum to the garden. The support doesn’t stop once the garden is built, but continues in various forms, completely embodying the “Sustain” part of their process. The Grow Garden Grow team remains available for any questions, tips, and recommendations that the schools may have regarding their gardens. Additionally, during the pandemic, Grow Garden Grow developed the North Texas School Garden Network to further connect the many schools in the region that are doing similar work.
A garden curriculum favorite among students and teachers alike is learning about monarch butterflies. The migratory path of monarch butterflies makes it a particularly special topic for the students in the North Texas region. In the spring, they plant native milkweed for the butterflies to lay their eggs on, and pollinator plants for their return in the fall. The Grow Garden Grow team understands that lasting change is made when values are instilled in the next generation and are doing the work to create a generation of people that know how valuable Earth is and will rally to protect it.
The school gardens provide habitat for important native species, such as the Scissor-tailed flycatcher, and migratory species, such as the monarch butterfly! Gardens are a useful tool in schools because they allow students and teachers to integrate hands-on experiences with their classroom curriculum and bridge the gap between sitting and listening in a classroom to learning and doing in nature.
The gardens promote healthy eating as the students are introduced to new foods, and are proud of the crop they grow.
Each month, the Grow Garden Grow team works with approximately 7,000 students in their own school gardens and are working to expand the school garden network in North Texas.
In 2022, Farmer Kim was awarded the Earthkind Harmony Hero Award for her work on school gardens and monarch butterfly curriculum. She and three members of the GGG team were given a trip to the monarch forests in Mexico where they learned from entomologists during their winter diapause. The GGG team are currently on a campaign to educate others about ways to create environments to support monarch butterflies. On the trip, they learned that tropical milkweed is harmful to monarchs, and are on a mission to convince big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart) to ban tropical milkweed and provide native milkweed to home gardeners. Students are taking part in a letter-writing campaign to support this cause.