Global Garden Exchange E-Pen Pal Program
Think Globally, Act Locally
Would you like to connect your students with a school garden in the United States, Africa, Asia, Latin America or Europe?
Welcome to the Global Garden Exchange (GGE), a virtual exchange geared towards students of all ages with 80+ schools participating from around the world. Through cultural exchange and shared learning around school gardens and food systems, we hope this program can transform youth into global citizens with a sense of empathy, compassion, responsibility and interconnectedness.
Classrooms share stories, photos and videos with their sister garden via email. Topics of conversation have included hobbies, culture, climate, food and, of course, gardening. It could turn into a traditional recipe swap, an opportunity for your students to build their foreign language skills, or perhaps lifelong friendships and travel abroad. The possibilities are endless!
Using school gardens and virtual exchange as a platform, our goals include:
- Cultural continuity and sharing
- Youth leadership development
- Raising awareness about global issues such as hunger/poverty, nutrition/health, environmental sustainability/climate change, gender equity, and education
Slow Food USA is proud to be working with the 10,000 Gardens in Africa project to connect schools in Africa to ones in the United States. Like the 10,000 Gardens project, the Global Garden Exchange aims to build connections between young people and agricultural biodiversity as well as an appreciation for how food and culture connect to build community, preserve tradition, and promote environmental sustainability.
If you are interested in participating, please fill out and return the teacher application below. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns!
Program Logistics View
- Interested teachers submit an application through our website.
- Once we receive the teacher application, we send an acknowledgement email, letting you know that we received it and that we are going to be pairing you with another school. This process may take several weeks, so we ask for your patience.
- After you have been paired, we will send you and your sister school a separate "Congratulations and Welcome" email, including a survey to be completed with your students.
- Once both teachers from the US and abroad have completed their Welcome Survey, we send one introduction email to both teachers where we share their sister garden information, including the teacher name and contact information, the school, and the location.
- Next we encourage you to proceed with class-to-class email communications. See "Ideas for Exchanging” below.
- We ask all schools to copy us on emails, so that we can monitor the exchanges and better track the success of the program.
Ideas for Exchanging View
- We encourage class-to-class communication between paired schools. So rather than having individual students send letters to each other, we have one teacher in the US exchange emails with one teacher from abroad, using student stories and ideas to populate the content of that message. This common curriculum fosters a more focused, intentional conversation among students in a class.
- Slow Food USA is here to encourage the relationships between schools. Each month, we will send out an email with a prompt or topic. These topics are suggestions to spark conversation; they are not mandatory. Example prompts include: seeds and biodiversity, sustainable growing methods, water conservation, traditional food, and the role of community.
- Some ideas to enrich and personalize the virtual exchange include photos, videos, collages, PowerPoint presentations, and scanned handwritten letters.
Program Guidelines View
- We encourage monthly contact between schools. We believe that frequent communication helps build a stronger relationship. Sister schools should communicate at least four times a school year.
- Having difficulty contacting your sister school? Please be patient as some schools have limited access to the Internet. If after a second attempt, you receive no response, email email@example.com. We are happy to help troubleshoot and may have other ways of connecting with the schools.
- Please CC/copy firstname.lastname@example.org on ALL email correspondence. This is a great way for us to monitor the success of the GGE program.
- We encourage digital media sharing! Send pictures and videos of your garden, the students, the school or food. Even photos of art projects or scanned hand-written letters make the exchange more personal!
- GGE is intended to be a class-to-class exchange. If students choose to be individual pen pals, that is fine. However, please continue the class-to-class correspondence.
- Lastly, this program is about making cross-cultural connections and the exchange of ideas. It is not about funding. Please do not ask your sister garden to send money to your school. Instead, use this opportunity to build understanding and relationships between youth across the world.
If you are interested in participating in the Global Garden Exchange, please submit an application.
**Please note that we will be in touch after your application has been submitted to let you know more details about the program.