School gardens were a mainstay in public and private schools in the late 1900s. Growing out of the "nature study" movement, which brought teaching of science into classrooms, these gardens were seen as a means to alleviate a wide variety of social concerns. It was believed that gardens would provide character building, an appreciation of the natural world, a strong work ethic, civic pride, and vocational learning in agriculture, while also serving as a hands-on teaching tool for the natural sciences. During World War I, the existing culture of school gardening played a part in filling the food shortages experienced during wartime. After World War I, school gardens largely fell away until a modest revival starting in the 1990s, fostered by Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard Project and Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign.
While this piece of education history has been largely forgotten, there is a deep archive of primary source materials on the legacy of school gardens. This guide serves to highlight this rich history.