Harvest your edible garden with our awesome toolkit!
Congratulations on all your hard work planning, planting, and caring for your garden! Now it’s time to enjoy your Harvest and Sustain the garden for years to come!
In this last toolkit of the Edible Garden series, students will learn how to harvest their edible garden site and care for it during school breaks. They will also discover the positive impacts edible gardens have on the environment.
Grades of Green is proud to partner with Palos Verdes School Gardens and Kellogg Garden Products to bring you this toolkit.
This toolkit address the following Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) within the Performance Expectations of NGSS for Grades: K-2 and 3-5
- Asking Questions and Defining a Problem
- Planning and Carrying out Investigations
- Analyzing and Interpreting Data
- Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
- Obtaining Evaluating, and Communicating Information
- Students will analyze their edible garden and determine best practices for harvesting
- Project Management
- Students will manage and maintain their own harvest to develop project management skills
- Students will practice leadership skills by delegating tasks to each other.
- Evaluation and Assessment
- Students will track and evaluate the impact of their edible garden.
What is an Edible Garden and why is it important?
An edible garden is a garden where you can eat what you grow! Edible gardens that are organic do not use harmful pesticides (a substance used to remove insects/pests and can also hurt plants and animals). Organic gardens contain healthy soil that removes CO2 from our atmosphere and eliminates dangerous chemicals and toxins that can occur on commercial produce.
What You Will Accomplish
Students will be able to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of their labors by harvesting and continuing to care for the garden. So much work has gone into maintaining the garden through watering, weeding, and fertilizing, now is the time to EAT and enjoy!
Educator Project Plan
Follow the steps below to LAUNCH your edible garden harvest and sustain plan at your school! Need help? Contact us!
Track your metrics and submit your impact after implementing this toolkit. Your feedback helps keep our programs free for all across the globe.
Use the Edible Garden Sign Up Sheet to have participants sign up. This step is for groups that did not use the Plan, Plant, Maintain toolkit or do not already have a team together. Skip this step if you already have a team together.
- A Student Group such as (a club, before/after school program, or non-school organization)
- A whole class
- The whole school
- An adult garden committee to support the students: Custodial staff, teachers, administrators, parent volunteers
Why Should You Harvest and Sustain an Edible Garden?
The resources provided below can be shown as a slideshow or printed out as individual worksheets for students to review. For more background learning, please refer to the Plan, Plant, and Maintain your garden toolkit!
Growing Food Reduces Plastic Packaging
Single-use plastics that are primarily used in food packaging are mostly made from fossil fuel-based chemicals. 150 million tons of single-use plastics are made worldwide every year which mostly end up in the landfill or the environment. Here, they break down but don’t break up, turning into microplastics, ending up in wildlife and people. Microplastics harm our health. The chemicals in plastics can cause hormonal imbalances, fertility issues, and cancer. We don’t want to eat plastic so the best way to reduce plastic in our environment is by not using it in the first place and growing your own produce is a great way to reduce the need for plastic packaging. 
Fertilizer is Important!
By using organic fertilizer in the soil and avoiding synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, the microorganisms in the soil that sequester carbon can continue to thrive. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer can cause nitrous oxide emissions, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. An organic garden has better soil quality, reducing fertilizer and pesticide run-off pollution. 
Kids Who Grow Their Own Food Have a Healthier Diet!
Learning where food comes from and how to grow and prepare it changes eating patterns over the long term. People who grow their own food tend to eat half a serving more vegetables a day than those who don’t. Eating more fruits and vegetables contributes to overall health and reduces the risk of developing heart disease, type two diabetes and some cancers. 
Watch these short videos to learn more about harvesting and sustaining!
Think About It!
- What will happen if the garden doesn’t get harvested?
- What are the benefits of fresh garden food?
- If you have an abundance of food, who could you share it with?
- What skills did you gain from working in the garden?
Take Action: LAUNCH the Harvest of Your Edible Garden
Follow the steps below to maintain a successful Edible Garden at your school! Need help? Contact us!
1. Harvest Safety
- Show students the safe use and handling of garden tools and equipment. Instruct them to hold tools with sharp edges pointed down and to walk, not run when carrying them.
- Everyone who harvests the produce should be healthy with no sores or cuts on their hands
- Harvest with clean hands
- Wear gloves
- Have proper supervision
- Gather produce in clean containers
- Store produce safely
- Brush off soil
- If washing before storing make sure they are thoroughly dry
- Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and peaches don’t need to be refrigerated
- Wash produce correctly
- Make sure to use potable water
2. When and How to Harvest Different Plants
There are different ways to harvest vegetables, depending on what you planted. You may have to pick, cut or dig up the harvest.
- Be careful when harvesting vegetables. Be gentle with them so they don’t break or bruise. They will keep longer in storage if handled carefully.
- Root vegetables should be picked when large enough but not too big! Don’t let them grow larger than a tennis ball
- Fruiting vegetables can be guided by skin color, look for even colors all around
- Lettuces could be picked by taking outside leaves only allowing the lettuce to keep growing from the center
- Cucumbers should be cut off the vine when between 6-8 inches
- Check out the Kellogg Harvesting Guide on common garden crops for more detailed information
Use this worksheet to keep track of what was harvested.
Pick when the harvest is ripe. It will taste the best and have the most nutritional value.
3. Extending Your Harvest
- Plant every week to have a continual harvest not all at once
Pick Early and Often
- This stimulates the plant to grow more fruit
- The plants might need to be covered for shade or heat to keep them happy and extend the growing season.
- Letting in more sunlight and air can help crops that need these to produce more fruit
Don’t let vegetables get too big. Lettuces will not be edible if they bolt (send a flower stalk up). This can happen with too much heat and sun exposure. (Mr. List, Sylmar High School teacher).
4. Plan a Harvest Party to Celebrate Volunteers and Students
These are just a few ideas, but make it fun and cater to your students.
- Make invitations with cut-out pictures from seed catalogs
- Invite volunteers and families to see the garden
- Plan a craft activity like (bird feeders, flowers, pots, etc.)
- Create a photo display of the entire garden process
- Have garden food to sample
- Hold a garden scavenger hunt or other Kellogg garden activities
5. Eating Your Harvest
When children help to grow vegetables, they are more likely to try different kinds and eat more at home. Some fun recipes to try using the garden harvest: https://www.eatright.org/food/planning/food-security-and-sustainability/kids-in-the-garden-nutritious-and-fun
- Kale chips
- Cucumber sandwiches
- Infused water
- Add harvest as pizza toppings
- Share with the community
- Take home the harvest to share
- Allow faculty to take home produce
- Host a farmers market at school
6. Summer Maintenance
Now it’s time to put all your hard work into practice! Set your classroom recycle bin next to
Summer break is a prime growing season. If the garden is still growing:
- Enlist volunteers to maintain and harvest
- Schedule workdays
- Consider teaming up with the on-campus summer youth programs
- Consider installing drip irrigation
- Keep mulch 2-3 inches deep
Options if the garden is not growing during the summer:
- Make sure plant debris is cleaned up and cover the soil by mulching
- Build soil by planting a cover crop
- Cover crops are plants used to build soil and not harvested for food. They keep nutrients in the soil so the rain doesn’t wash them away and return them as the cover crop is tilled back into the soil. Cover crops lead to better water infiltration and hold more water. They also keep down weeds. The types of winter cover crops that are suitable for planting in your school garden in late summer and early fall will depend on your region of the country.
- Buckwheat is considered a good summer cover crop in most areas. They should be cut down a week before flowering so they don’t set seeds. Chop them into small pieces and use them as mulch.
Check out this link for more information!
7. Winter Maintenance
Clean up the garden for a head start for the spring season
- Remove plant debris
- Debris might be harboring pests or diseases that could cause problems next season
- Get weeds out before they go to seed
- Cover the soil with mulch or with cover crop
- Bare soil can erode from wind or water or compact from rain
- Covered soil reduces weeds in the next growing season
- Add winter cover crop. Cover crops hold onto nutrients in the soil and put them back in when returned to the soil in the spring.
How’d It Go?
- What were some good things that happened during your project?
- What could you do to improve your project next time?
- What other ways could you keep trash away from landfills?
- How often does your recycling bin fill up?
Report Students’ Impact
Congratulations!! You’ve implemented Harvest and Sustain! Don’t let all that hard work go unnoticed. Submit your results by clicking the green button below.
Project ongoing? No problem! Let us know what you’ve done so far.
By reporting your impact, Grades of Green can:
- CELEBRATE and elevate your students’ hard work and success.
- Offer our programs FREE for all students across the globe.
- AWARD stipends and certificates to hard-working educators and students.
Please take a few minutes to submit your results. Thank you!
- Edible Garden Series Google Resources
- Edible Garden Sign-Up Sheet
- Edible Garden Maintenance Schedule
- Edible Garden Grid Plan
- Edible Garden Recipes
- Edible Garden Wrap-Up Form
- Edible Garden Harvest Worksheet
- Harvest and Sustain Slideshow
- Kellogg Harvesting Guide
- Kellogg Activities for kids with printouts
Congrats on completing our Harvest and Sustain Toolkit!
Did you enjoy this toolkit? Find your next project here!