Downloadable Workshop Resources
- Tualatin SWCD Soil Health Curriculum
- Summer in the School Garden volunteer management handbook (Pritha Golden and Karin Pfeiffer-Hoyt)
- Terra Nova Community Farm Toolkit
- Oregon Soil Health Field Evaluation Kit Manual (Provided by Benton SWCD)
- Building Soil for Better Crops
- Introduction to Sustainable Farming
- Layered Lasagna Bed Illustrated How-to Guide
Why does soil health matter?
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil leads the charge to change how farmers manage soil health. It all begins with understanding that soil is more than sand, silt and clay – it is a living ecosystem!
At Tualatin SWCD, we’ve been training farmers for several years on good soil health practices for their fields and crops. Just like in the farm setting, proper soil health care is natural insurance for school gardens against drought, pests and weeds.
We teach farmers and gardeners about soil health to help protect our natural resources. Poor soil health management leads to compaction, runoff, erosion, and loss of organic matter in soils. Protecting and improving soil health plays a key role in protecting our food systems and our natural resources as well as ensuring garden success.
Teaching soil health in our schools helps to meet NGSS standards. Because soils are themselves ecosystems, school gardens provide a living laboratory for investigation based learning. Working with soils gets kids outside and engaged in learning by doing and by service. Teaching about soil prepares our students to better understand their world and to conserve natural resources throughout their lives.
What are we doing about it?
Teaching Teachers: With support from the Gray Family Foundation, Tualatin SWCD is leading a partnership to deliver teachers and garden managers the same valuable information we already provide farmers. This spring, along with the Tualatin River Watershed Council, West Multnomah SWCD , Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and Clackamas SWCD, we will host six pilot workshops. These workshops cover the basics of soil health, show you how to care for the soil in your garden, give you a chance to get your hands dirty testing student activities, and provide some guidance on managing volunteers.
Inspiring Gardens: Tualatin SWCD is also partnering with Swallowtail Elementary to create a soil health inspiration (or demonstration) garden. We will document the life of this garden and the soil health practices applied in a guidebook, as well as provide educational signage at the garden. If you attend our Washington County workshop, you may see the garden first hand!
Teaching Students: We are creating a set of garden activities designed to teach soil health concepts in a way they helps classroom teachers meet NGSS standards (Portland Metro STEM Partnership provides support in alignment). The first version of this lessons set will be available at our spring pilot workshops, and we hope to get great feedback.
Spreading the Word: When we have gathered the data from our spring workshops, we will refine our model, then teach other conservation districts how to host these workshops statewide.
How can you help?
To make this work, we really need your help. We need teachers to attend this year’s pilot workshop and to review the activity guide so that we can improve our model. If you can do some of the following, it will help!
- Sign up for email updates about soil health and schools.
- Attend a soil health workshop this year in Washington, Multnomah or Clackamas County. Help us plan – what date works best for you?
- Encourage your local SWCD to host future workshops – they can contact Tualatin SWCD for more details!
- Use these tools and the free soil health activities in your school garden, then share how things are going!
To learn more, join the newsletter, or get involved, contact us at Chantel.Huff@tualatinswcd.org!