POP’s School Orchard Program was launched in 2017, and for three years developed standards-based lesson plans and activity guides for teachers using school orchards as outdoor classrooms. POP’s curriculum and lesson plans remain available for use and download here, but new lesson plan development will not be a focus for POP in 2021 and beyond.
POP currently supports orchards at 10 district schools (Bartram HS, Hartranft ES, Greenfield ES, Lea ES, Penn Alexander, Roxborough HS, Saul HS, Sayre HS, South Philadelphia HS, and Tilden MS), 2 public charters (Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School and Philadelphia Montessori Charter School), and the Overbrook School for the Blind. As with POP’s overall planting priority of supporting systemically under-resourced communities, 7 of the schools POP works with have 100% of students who are considered “economically disadvantaged” by the School District and eligible for free or reduced lunch, and an additional 3 of the schools have between 44-86% of students on free or reduced lunch.
POP provides school partners with assistance in designing and planting their orchard and training in ongoing orchard care, harvest, and use. The program also works to build interdisciplinary relationships with the city’s educators working in food justice, urban agriculture, nutrition, and literacy.
“Each day our students roam the garden discovering insects, birds, and an occasional fruit. Our orchard is still young and doesn’t produce much yet, but the trees provide shade and for the first time we found Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars in the garden. We are beginning to have develop an ecosystem.”
School orchards connect students to how food is grown and create opportunities to learn about soil life, water cycles, pollination, botany, ecology, and civic engagement. In 2019, our School Orchard Program continued to expand in offering unique, engaging, and hands-on learning activities for students. In total, we offered 31 lessons, created 11 downloadable lessons, published bi-lingual Rainbow Nutrition Cards, made 413 student impressions and 71 educator impressions, and created pre- and post-school year surveys to collect orchard metrics that have value for structuring our programming.
Throughout most of 2020, POP’s School Orchard Program was not able to operate in classrooms. Program development focused on learning initiatives related to special needs curriculum accessibility and the publication of a standards-based book of fruit-and-herb themed lessons for partner sites and the wider educator community.
POP thanks the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation for their support of the School Orchard Program!
For orchard-based curriculum and lesson plans, visit our Resources page: