The Garden as a Teacher

The garden is a part of our grades curriculum program, and this is taught by the main lesson teacher. The program offers children a chance to learn the practical skills of caring for themselves and the earth while bringing to life the academic work of the classroom. The garden serves as a classroom for the early childhood, grades, and high school classes. In the early grades, the gardening curriculum emphasizes reverence for nature, care for the environment, and respect for each other. Early gardening activities foster the students’ powers of observation that become vital in later gardening years. Stories and songs are used to introduce gardening themes and jobs such as the life cycle of plants, facts of the natural world, and seasonal changes. The skills taught in gardening such as tool care and cleaning, harvesting, saving seed, and extensive weeding and bed preparation strengthen the will, support physical growth, and teach responsibility.

In third grade, gardening comes into full focus. The themes in third grade gardening include, turning feelings of separation and change into responsibility for self and world, grounding the feeling world in concrete reality, and learning to trust the interconnections of all life forms. In third grade, all practical gardening activities are taught and regularly done. This includes weeding, watering, harvesting, planting, bed preparation, and collecting compost. The children continue these tasks in later gardening years.

After the foundation of the early years, the gardening curriculum continues to expand the children’s practical skills while shifting to a focus on social responsibility and relationship of self to the world around. In the middle school, this takes the form of lessons on practical skills, food, sustainability, and Permaculture. As the children grow, the gardening curriculum meets their physical needs with more strenuous work. The students’ growing sense of independence allows for more individual projects and responsibilities. The overall hope of the gardening program at DMS is that each child takes away a sense of being needed by the world around them and practical skills they can use to fill those voids.

Volunteering in the Garden

Parents can work in the garden for the joy of it, but they can also fulfill the volunteer commitment expected from each family. The surrounding community is always welcome to be a part of the garden effort as well. There are Thursday evening family “Garden Dig-Ins” organized by class, as well as the monthly Second Saturday morning garden “Work-Days”.
Click here to check the calendar
Click here to learn about volunteering at DMS

Garden Internships

DMS actively supports (and is supported by) interns from the ASU School of Sustainability. Step-by-step we are working to transform our school into what we feel the future requires of us. Sustainable practices currently in place include agriculture, rainwater harvesting, alternative building systems, an alternative parking surface & extensive re-purposing. We seek the active participation of interns to work with us as we learn & grown.


Composting is one of the most important aspects of gardening. The compost that goes into our garden provides it with all the nutrients it needs to support a healthy soil. At DMS, everyone is involved in making compost, from the children, to the staff, to the apprentices & volunteers. All the organic material on our property is utilized in this process. Nothing is wasted or lost. All is turned back onto itself, to feed & renew, again & again.

Seed Saving

Seed saving is an important aspect of sustainability in the garden. Saving seeds ensures species viability and reduces cost associated with acquiring new seeds.

Wheat Fields

Each year, the third grade class grows wheat. Desert Marigold School is the only commercial grower of this type of wheat in the country, ensuring it’s survival. The children learn to measure, use tools, reap and sow crops. At the end of the year, the students reap the rewards or their hard work by learning to bake bread from their own wheat field