School Orchard Program

School Orchard Program

POP’s School Orchard Program was launched in 2017, and is on hiatus in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 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 we work 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.

As with all of our community orchard partners, POP provides our school partners with assistance in designing and planting their orchard and training in ongoing orchard care, harvest, and use. The School Orchard Program prioritizes the learning objectives of schools, students, and communities in developing orchard-based lesson plans for use by school orchard partners and others serving youth. 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.”

—Letitia Biddle

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:

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