OL 303 Student Resources: Vegetable Gardens & Community Gardens

This OL 303 Student Resource Page has three sections that can easily be reached by clicking on the red links just below.

Read the Class Homepage First.

  1. Download Documents. This is where you can download Word, Excel and PDF documents that can save as course resources for future projects and use as templates for the assignments.
  2. The Course Website. Webpage versions of the discussions and assignments for each week.
  3. Read this first: The Class Home Page. This gives you an overview of the course and also sets up the course logistics.

Links on this OL 303 Student Resource Page:

Download Documents Discussions & Assignments Class Home Page


Download Course Documents

OL 303 Vegetable Gardens & Community Gardens for Family Nutrition & Food Security

General Documents

OL 303 Syllabus

E-Mail and Homework Etiquette

Week One

OL 303 Assignment One Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 1 Word Document to 35K

OL 303 Assignment 1 Discussion Word Document 35K

Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Food Security

Introduction to a Healthy Diet

Healthy Harvest: A training manual for community workers in good nutrition, and the growing, preparing and processing of healthy food.

USDA MyPlate. The most extensive site on the Internet for actually determining what people of different ages need to eat and for building menus. Very Graphic, easy to use (except for the scale of the project) and has a number of different learning and teaching tools. Worth spending ½ hour exploring this site and finding a page that you can adapt to your situation. Download and print handouts for workshops.

OL 303 Class Links Specific to This Course

Week Two

OL 303 Assignment Two Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 2 Word Document 35K

Useful Nutrition Charts for Workshops.doc

Lesson Plan for Introducing Nutrition for Community Members

FAO Innovative Tools for Assessing Household Food Security and Dietary Diversity


FAO Dietary Diversity Questionnaire

FAO Guidelines for Measuring Household and Individual Dietary Diversity:

Food Security:
Household Food Insecurity Access Scale Survey Questionnaire

USAID Household Food Insecurity Access Scale HFIAS

Home Gardening:
Home Gardening Questionnaire

Week Three

OL 303 Assignment Three Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 3 Word Document 35K

See an example OL 303 assignment from a student project in Western Kenya PDF 35K

Week Four

OL 303 Assignment Four Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 4 Word Document 35K

Week Five

OL 303 Assignment Five Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 5 Word Document 35K

OL 303 Assignment Five – Logframe Template to Fill In

OL 303 Assignment Five – Detailed Budget Template to Fill In

OL 303 Assignment Five – Student Project Schedule Template to Fill In

Week Six

OL 303 Assignment Six Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 6 Word Document 36K

Family Garden Bed Field Guide Example

Week Seven

OL 303 Assignment Seven Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 7 Word Document 36K

Kitchen Garden Beds How To Card PDF

Lesson Plan Kitchen Garden Beds and Seeds for Community Workshop Word Document

Field Guide, Lesson Plan, How-To Card in one document Word Document 1.9M

Field Guide, Lesson Plan, How-To Card in one document PDF 886K

Week Eight

OL 303 Assignment Eight Homework PDF 35K

Magee Example Project OL 303 Assignment 8 Word Document 36K

Evaluation Form for Food Security, Nutrition and Home Gardens 1


Welcome to OL 303 Vegetable Gardens & Community Gardens Class Home Page


The Course

Welcome to the Center for Sustainable Development’s online learning course OL 303 Vegetable Gardens & Community Gardens for Family Nutrition & Food Security. In this course you will assess food security and nutrition needs in a community and launch a community gardening project. It is the prerequisite for a second course, OL 303 Food Security, Nutrition and Home Gardens 2, where community members will learn how to care for the garden, how to increase family understanding of nutrition – including using delicious, nutrition packed recipes, and how to plan for next season’s garden.


You have signed up for a specific course within specific dates. If you are not able to complete the course within these dates, the Center allows you to take the course again for 50% of the normal course fee if you enroll in the very next scheduled course and use the very same project. Unfortunately, we can’t make exceptions.

Please review E-Mail and Homework Etiquette in the Download Class Documents as a refresher. Course participants who successfully complete a course on time will receive a course certificate. Learn the full details.

The class week begins on Tuesdays; assignments need to be sent to me by the Monday 7 days later. This allows students without Internet at home to access Internet at work on Mondays in order to send their assignment in.

The Student Resource Page contains:
1. Links for downloading the weeks’ documents: be sure to save them for future reference.
2. Links for the background Discussion on the week’s homework assignment; in this case – OL 303 Discussion 1; read this first each week
3. Links to the week’s Assignment; in this case – OL 303 Assignment One Homework
4. Links to the Magee Example Project Assignment for each week.
5. This, the Class Home Page with the class rules and logistics
6. A link to the Email & Homework Etiquette page in the Download Class Documents gives the rules of the game for corresponding with us and for posting assignments. Please print it out and read it first.

Each week I will ask you to download my example project to use as an assignment template. You can contact me with questions here: OL.341@csd-i.org .

Important: The Email & Homework Etiquette page in the Download Class Documents gives the rules of the game for corresponding with us and for posting assignments. Please print it out and read it first.

The Class Project

This class is designed to be fun. We are each going to develop our own project – hopefully a real one. Each one of your assignments is actually a concrete element in building your project. I will comment on the development of each of your projects and have posted my own project components as examples for you to see and use for ideas.

Please use my Magee examples as templates for your project. They are formatted such that one week is the building block for the next week and therefore we need to maintain the format of the examples I provide. Download my examples and just write right over the top of what I’ve written. In this manner you will learn the system and be guided in thinking through the components of your project. This will also make it much easier for me to read through each of your assignments as each participant’s will all have the same look and feel.

I will review each one of your assignments and make suggestions. In this manner, I get to know you through our correspondence, and I become familiar with each of your projects. My suggestions are meant to keep your assignment ‘on track’. There are very specific steps that we work through and each project usually needs a bit of guidance in preparation for the next assignment. Do not move onto the next assignment until you have received my comments on the current assignment.

Please send photos of you, your project, the community you are working with (get some good close-ups) and I will post them in an upcoming newsletter. For some tips on taking good photos please look at the Newsletter: Capturing Compelling Photos from the Field.

Class Rules

1. Schedule. The work load is between 2 and 4 hours a week. You need to stay on schedule. We all need to be on the same week. If you get behind the rest of the class, you will need to take the class again in the future. We allow you to take the course again for ½ price if you join the very next class and use the same project.

2. Certificates. Course participants who successfully complete a course on time will receive a course certificate. Learn more. Your certificate will be e-mailed within 30 days of the end of your course.

Signed certificates are delivered by email in a PDF format for you to print out. We do not offer paper certificates by mail. The name on the certificate will be your first and last names as they appear on your Student Enrollment Form.

Course certificates are issued for all students from one course all at the same time—usually within one week of the end of the course. Students requesting a replacement certificate at a future date will be charged a $15.00 fee. So save and backup your certificate when you receive it.

3. Email and Homework Etiquette: the rules of the game. We have had students from 153 different countries enrolled in different courses. It is a bit complicated managing all of the incoming emails. We have developed a system that you need to incorporate in submitting homework and in corresponding with us. Please read the etiquette page now.

4. Our Online Course FAQ has answers to most other questions.

I’ve added a new menu item of specific links just for this course under the heading “303 Class Links Specific to This Course” for an array of documents and sites to explore for this course.

This course is going to be divided into five community-centered components:

1. Assessing the food security reality of the community that you’re working in
2. Understanding the nutritional reality of the community which you are working in
3. Developing a simple baseline for the purposes of monitoring and evaluation and for better understanding the community context
4. Matching nutritional deficits to potential home garden crops
5. Designing and planting home gardens

Food security
Food security exists when people have enough basic food at all times to provide them with energy and nutrients for fully productive lives. When poor people are asked what their highest priority is for themselves and their family, very frequently their answer is food. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger is designed to eradicate hunger.

Food insecurity is still severe in some countries, especially in sub Sahara Africa and South Asia. While poverty is the main cause of food insecurity across the world, there are other issues that complicate it, such as climate change, HIV, conflict, and poor governance.

The concept of food security can be divided into four main areas.
1. Availability of food
2. Access to food
3. Quality and nutritional value of food
4. Stability in the provision of food

Over 60% of the projects that online students are working on have been about either a shortage of food or a shortage of good water. Underlying causes could be linked to climate change and include prolonged drought and the drying up of the village spring. These water issues in turn can precipitate food shortages.

In Guatemala (where my example project is based), due to population growth, family farms are no longer large enough to grow enough corn to last for the full 12 months before the next harvest. And, there isn’t enough water during the dry season to provide irrigation for a second corn crop. A subsistence farmer’s family runs out of corn four or five months before the next harvest. This is typical in other parts of the world too.

Rural families may not have enough food, or they may have enough of their staple crop — corn or rice or cassava — but the rest of their diet may not be varied enough to provide good nutrition — especially for growing children. Chronic malnutrition can lead to stunting (lack of physical and mental development in children) which in turn can lead to an inability to excel in school. These children may become uneducated adults of small stature reducing their ability to lead healthy, prosperous, productive lives.

Studies have also shown that improved nutrition boosts the body’s immune system protecting children against disease and can reduce diarrheal infections from 18% of the children to 5% of the children.

One of the simple underlying principles of good nutrition is to eat a variety of different kinds of food. If a family is suffering from poor nutrition it could be that:
1. There is a lack of availability of food
2. They can’t afford a variety of food
3. They have a lack of knowledge of nutrition

Baseline Survey
During the community workshop in week three—part of what we will do with the focus group attending the workshop is to conduct a simple survey that will let us gain a better understanding of community food security and family nutrition. We will also include a few questions about family gardening.

The survey will do four things for us:
1. It will help us determine if the community is suffering from food insecurity, and if so, what are the underlying causes.
2. It will help us determine if families in the community are suffering from under nutrition, and if so, what are the underlying causes.
3. It will help us understand people’s feelings and knowledge about family gardens, whether they have areas that they can plant gardens in, and whether they have the ability to purchase seed and maintain their gardens, and whether they have water available for watering their gardens.
4. And lastly, the baseline will give us something to compare to in six months or a year to see if our program is having a positive impact on the community.

Family Garden Crops
From the baseline we will gain a better understanding of where the food gaps are and what potential we have in the community for family gardens. We will be able to present this information to both an agriculturalist and a nutritionist in order to get their recommendations for what culturally and regionally appropriate food could be introduced to the community to help fill those food gaps.

For example we might be in an area that is relatively dry and children are suffering from a lack of vitamin A. The agriculturalist and nutritionist may recommend sweet potatoes as one of the garden crops because they grow well in the dry soil and are a good provider of vitamin A.

Another thing to consider are local, indigenous food crops that may have fallen out of favor with the introduction of imported food crops. Many times these indigenous foods are well-suited to the area and appreciated by the locals.

Designing and planting a family garden
Now that we’ve gotten past all of the scientific investigation, we can begin to have some fun and start designing and planting gardens. At first will need to present the choices for food crops to the community. Then we’ll need to have the community members draw a simple map on a sheet of paper of their compound so that we can see whether they have a yard for garden, whether they have a fence, whether they’re on a steep slope or have level ground, whether their garden is heavily shaded by trees or has sufficient sun, and whether they have a source of water.

Then we will plant a demonstration garden either at a school or community center or even someone’s yard, so that workshop participants can see what it looks like to plant a vegetable garden from start to finish.

Workshop participants will then go to their homes and plant their own gardens.

In the next course, OL 304, we will learn the care and maintenance of the garden and also expand upon our knowledge of nutrition by taking crops that we will be growing into the kitchen and trying new, nutritious recipes.

Vegetable Gardens and Community Gardens for Food Security & Nutrition.

Course Syllabus.

Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Basket of Vegetables representing Food Security and Nutrition Week 1. Overview of Family Food security and Nutrition What is Food Security? What’s necessary for good nutrition?
Scientific Evidence on Community Gardening and Nutrition: What works?
Organize a Participatory Garden Nutrition Workshop.
Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Community Members Learn Nutrition Week 2. Develop Survey for Community Members on Food Security & Nutrition. Develop both a Workshop Lesson Plan and a Baseline Survey that will let us gain a better understanding of the community, food security and family nutrition.
Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Gardener weeding his plot Week 3.Survey Community Members About Their Food Security & Nutrition. Lead a Participatory Workshop on Family Nutrition and Vegetable Gardens. Share how planting a garden can increase the food a family receives. Demonstrate plants that provide essential vitamins, proteins and oils, and how harvests can coincide with the months when food reserves are low. Encourage feedback.
Take a Baseline Survey: Where is the community now nutritionally? Are they interested in community gardening?
Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Gardener's clipboard Week 4. Design a Program for Family Gardens & Community Gardens. Use the community feedback and the results of the baseline to plan a one-year nutrition and family garden project. Establish food security goals.
Research best practices and solutions to special problems.
Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Planning for family gardens in a community Week 5. Develop Program Management Tools. Develop a 12-month project logframe, budget and schedule. These tools will communicate to donors and stakeholders exactly what you are trying to accomplish and can be used for effective management of the project
Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Vegetable Garden Training. Assemble tools and supplies - including a watering can. Week 6. Design a Workshop on Community Gardens. Begin organizing the first garden planting workshop. Partner with experts. Find a location and assemble tools and supplies. Coordinate with nutrition and garden experts. Schedule the workshop with the community.
Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Turning your set of planting activities into a lesson plan and a take-home, how-to card. Week 7. Prepare for the Workshop on Vegetable Gardens. How will you transfer the gardening information to the community? Turning your set of planting activities into a lesson plan and a take-home, how-to card.
Vegetable Gardens, Community Gardens: Gardener preparing a raised bed for planting vegetables Week 8. Hands-on Workshop: Planting Vegetable Gardens and Community Gardens. Dig beds, plant seeds. Participants can have a successful first-year garden, even if small. Discuss the importance of organic matter in the soil. Dig garden beds, and provide and plant seed for nutritious, vitamin A rich, local vegetables.

The Course also Provides the Following Resources
Documents on course topics by contemporary experts.
Books, posters and manuals available online for download.
Internet development links organized by sector.
There are no books to buy—all course materials can be linked to, or downloaded from the course site.

So what’s next? Click on the Assignment One Discussion and get started in family food and nutrition!

Tim Magee