Filed Under Education

Ben Franklin Elementary Gardening Program

In 1904, the Cleveland Public Schools began a small school gardening program which quickly expanded into a multi-million dollar, district-wide deal. Generations of schoolchildren participated by growing food, beautifying vacant lots, and learning about the science of gardening. In the 1970s, however, budget cuts spelled the end of most of the gardens.

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, located in the Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood, participated in the original gardening program beginning in 1922. Its gardens closed in 1977 when the program was canceled by the district.

In the 1990s, Master Gardeners from the Ohio State University Extension restarted the school's gardening program and also renovated the old garden classroom that had fallen into disrepair after 1977. The Master Gardeners even created a new curriculum for the program and have played a major part in continuing the long tradition of gardening at Benjamin Franklin.

Images

Vegetable Garden, July 1933 The vegetable garden at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
View From School, Aug. 1926 This image was taken from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Old Brooklyn, facing south. To the left is a formal water garden with a wood bridge, and to the right is another formal garden. Both gardens are bordered on all four sides by hedges. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Farmers Market, 1940 Children from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School sell the produce grown in their school gardens to older students. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Raking, April 1943 Students at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School till and rake the soil in preparation for the spring planting. Each plot has a stake indicating the gardener's name. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Tomato Harvest, Oct. 1946 Roger Allshoune harvests tomatoes in the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School garden under the watchful eyes of Tekla Benz (left) and Principal Aleda Ranft. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
In the Garden, June 1976 Student gardeners examine pea pods in the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School garden. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Master Gardeners With Students, 1999 Master Gardeners from the Ohio State University Extension work with students in the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School garden. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Location

Metadata

“Ben Franklin Elementary Gardening Program,” Cleveland Historical, accessed December 8, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/142.