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Lettuce Learn Project to host professional development workshop for educators

Goal is to use the garden as a tool for learning

BOONE—Appalachian State University and a Boone-based organization are offering a three-day workshop to help educators incorporate gardening into their curriculum. From July 21-23, the Lettuce Learn Project and the Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Department will host elementary teachers and child care professionals, introducing them to the benefits and basics of garden-based sustainability education as well as provide opportunities to design and practice garden-based lesson ideas.

View larger imageArea educators can learn how to use gardening as a tool for learning at a July workshop sponsored by the Lettuce Learn Project and Appalachian State University. Lettuce Learn founder Courtney Baines Smith believes gardening can be used to teach students academic math, science, language arts, social studies and nutrition and expose them to sustainability education, teamwork, patience and community citizenship. (Photo b Marie Freeman)

Pre-registration is required and is open to informal and formal educators in the elementary and early childhood setting. The cost is $25 for three days. To register or learn more about this event, visit To learn more about or get involved with the Lettuce Learn Project, visit

Courtney Baines Smith, founder and director of Lettuce Learn, said, “Gardens can serve as a platform to teach a variety of important academic lessons from math, science, language arts, social studies, nutrition and art to broader goals such as sustainability education, holistic and systems thinking, teamwork, patience, food system complexities and community citizenship.”

The training will feature two tracks with 20 spots available for those who work with elementary-aged children and 20 spots for early childhood educators. The early childhood track will feature multiple learning garden tours including Appalachian’s Child Development Center, Edible Schoolyard and Lucy Brock Child Development Lab Program, as well as a one-day workshop with Growing Minds, a program of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP).

The elementary school track will feature science education professors Leslie Bradbury and Rachel Wilson from Appalachian’s Reich College of Education. Wilson and Bradbury will focus on creating and implementing garden-based units that integrate Common Core ELA and NC Essential Science Standards, introducing participants to classroom-tested garden units and allowing them to practice creating their own integrated garden-based unit for their classrooms.

“Lettuce Learn believes it is imperative to offer students an opportunity to learn such lessons in an outdoor, experiential setting that is intimate with place,” Baines Smith said, “and we are excited to share this strategy with educators who are eager to dig in.”

Sponsors of the event include the Children’s Council of Watauga County, and Appalachian’s Southern Appalachian Environmental Research and Education Group, Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Department, Math and Science Education Center, Sustain Appalachian and the Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics.