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School gardens provide a treasure trove of learning experiences for children, but many teachers don’t have the resources to start their own.

Virginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom program offers Garden Grants and Agriculture Experience Grants to teachers who plant school gardens or implement other programs that help students learn about gardening and agriculture.

Virginia AITC’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, Jessica Pittman, used an AITC grant to purchase a tower garden for her classroom at Bowling Green Elementary School in Caroline County. She used aeroponics to grow and harvest lettuce with her first grade students. 

Aeroponics is the process of growing plants without the use of soil. When plants are grown using aeroponics, as opposed to traditional hydroponics, the plant’s roots are misted with a nutrient-rich water solution, rather than being submerged. Pittman’s use of a tower garden allowed lettuce to be grown and harvested throughout the school year.

Other teachers, like Virginia AITC’s 2018 Teacher of the Year Jennifer Massengill of Newport News, plant outdoor gardens and use them as a way to give hands-on examples to demonstrate required core curriculum in subjects like science, technology and language arts. Massengill tries to involve each student with the garden through science classes, blog groups, afternoon garden clubs and morning cooking classes.

Some teachers have received grants from AITC to get their gardens growing.

As a member of Virginia Farm Bureau, you are supporting Virginia’s AITC program, which makes these grants and school gardens possible. Having a school garden or tower garden can help plants—and children—grow. For more information about how you can help support Virginia AITC go to

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