Better School Food — ( ) This is an exceptional web site in many ways. Aimed at parents of school-aged children, It's well-organized, easy to navigate, colorful, and contains excellent information including lots of solid practical advice. The "Top 10 List" and "Action Plan" describe numerous reasonable & effective ways for parents to improve the nutrition of their kids. Aside from good links to school gardening resources and toolkits, the school gardening page has a great list of "Ten Reasons Why School Gardens are an Excellent Idea" that eloquently states the case. One problem is that some parts of the website, like media and events, are under construction or outdated. It's also difficult to immediately see what particular issues, campaigns or actions the Better School Food organization itself is focused on. But as a clearly presented and fairly comprehensive introduction to the broad concerns of the healthy school food movement, this is one of the best sites I've seen.

GardenABCs — ( ) Another excellent site! Its emphasis is simply to share information about all aspects of school gardening, and in this mission GardenABCs is very successful. This website possesses the most detailed & thorough lists of school gardening resources that exist anywhere on the Internet, in a number of categories including how-to guides, research, grants, organizations, and curriculum materials. The section of "Success Stories" provides inspiring case studies of many school gardens that have achieved positive results. However, a few parts of the site are inadequate. For example, the "Supplies" page has a weird obsession with LED grow lights and features almost nothing else, and the "Experts" page is sparsely populated. But overall, if I had to recommend only one site to someone interested in starting a new school garden, I would choose this one, due to its abundance of high-quality free knowledge and links.

KidsGardening — ( ) Hosted by the National Gardeners Association, this is another highly valuable site for its wealth of information. But compared to the other 2 sites, it contains more serious flaws. The worst of these is its corporate sponsorship by Scotts Miracle-Gro, along with the prominent advertising space it gives to the multinational chemical pesticide company Syngenta for a school gardens grant. While KidsGardening is not the only school gardening site that fails to advocate sustainable agriculture, it's the only one I've seen that explicitly endorses the uses of pesticides. The best original feature of this site is the School Garden Registry, with over one thousand school gardens listed — yet many of the entries are old and outdated. The site is also somewhat cluttered and difficult to navigate, compared to the 2 others. On the other hand, the "Digging Deeper" and "Grants and Resources" pages have a tremendous amount of useful information that largely compensates for these weaknesses.

If I could create my own school gardens website, it would highlight the best resources and links from all the other sites while emphasizing sustainable agriculture and promoting the "Universal School Gardens" movement. It would aim to empower the diverse new youth-led sustainable food movements by featuring the cultural contributions — voices, art, writings, videos, action ideas, and more — of young leaders. It would use the cutting-edge social networking technologies of the "new Internet" — of which is one top example— to raise the growing school gardens movement to a much higher level of impact.

Ethan Genauer

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