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The Green Teen Garden Project @ Cupertino Library

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The Green Teen Garden Project @ Cupertino Library

Santa Clara County Library, Calif.

Health & Wellness | 2015 | Honorable Mention

Innovation Synopsis

Cupertino Library’s Green Teen Garden Project (GTGP) teaches teenagers extensive gardening and sustainability skills through a four-month, hands-on gardening program led by library staff and veteran gardeners. Teens develop an understanding of best gardening practices and green living skills by maintaining a self-contained, organic garden located inside the library’s courtyard.


For many teens, life is all about electronics and a constant feed of social media. But others are looking for something more meaningful and challenging. Based on the teens’ own suggestions for green living development, the Cupertino Library’s GTGP teaches library volunteers green living skills through tutorials led by veteran gardeners and library staff. Teens experience hands-on learning through basic garden maintenance and care. The Green Teens demonstrate positive community involvement by donating all vegetables grown to the local community service agency’s food pantry for people in need. All Green Teen Garden participants tour the food pantry’s facilities to learn about people in the community who are in need of food and about the value of personal involvement in meeting these needs.

Key Elements of Innovation

Stakeholders for the GTGP included the Friends of the Library, the library’s Teen Advisory Board and the Library Commission. The Friends funded the purchase of gardening materials and the Commission approved the use of the courtyard space. Area businesses donated seeds, soil and other supplies. The project enhances the library’s relationship with the Master Gardeners and adds a collaborative element to that longtime community partnership. The GTGP enabled teens with the opportunity to renovate the library courtyard in a sustainable and forward-thinking way; the courtyard, a space formerly barren of plant life, is now alive with color and vegetation.

Achieved Outcomes

Upon completion of their four-month rotation, teen participants develop the necessary skills to care for and nurture both herbs and vegetables in an organic garden setting. Green Teens can successfully check pH soil levels, turn waste into compost, recycle plastic bottles and discarded newspapers into seedling sprouters, fend off insect infestation, plant and harvest crops. The Cupertino Library’s GTGP produces teenage eco-enthusiasts who not only have comprehensive organic gardening skills, but who also are ready to serve as environmental advocates and to meet the challenge of not only recognizing, but also meeting community needs. After only two years of operation the Green Teen Garden Project has successfully produced forty teen gardeners and has donated over forty-five pounds of fresh organic vegetables to people in need.