School Garden Pen Pals


In Fall 2012 we put out a call for pen pals to the school garden community and since then we have exchanged letters each year with 3rd graders at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 School (BVHM) located in San Francisco’s Mission District. This year we also piloted a garden pen pal and field trip project between 2nd graders at AFY and Jefferson Elementary School, both located in the Sunset District. In these hand-written letter exchanges, students introduce themselves to their pen pal match, describe their school gardens and favorite activities with each other, share garden words that they know in either Cantonese or Spanish, tell each other about what’s going on in the garden lately, and answer and pose questions back and forth. It has been a great way to use writing and drawing to explore beyond our garden fences, and to help our students hear what is happening in school gardens around San Francisco.

Our 2nd graders even had the chance to go on a walking field trip to visit the Jefferson School Garden last week. We started out by making flower bouquets in the morning from the AFY garden as a way to bring a little bit of our garden to share with each classroom at Jefferson. Each student hand-cut 1 flower to place in the vase. After lunch, students walked down to Jefferson Elementary on 18th and Irving to meet their pen pals. Throughout the afternoon Jefferson 2nd graders took their AFY pen pals on a tour of their school garden, participated in relay races, and drew chalk portraits of each other on the black top. It was an exciting and fun filled day!


A big thank you to the Education Outside Corps Members at BVHM (Ms. Polly) and Jefferson (Mr. Carson) for helping to coordinate pen pals and the field trip this year. Another big thank you as well for all the AFY, BVHM, and Jefferson teachers for participating, and to the Jefferson Elementary School Staff for hosting us in your classrooms and beautiful garden.

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6 Responses to School Garden Pen Pals

  1. Ryan Johnson says:


    Documentation of another great opportunity that you have created for our children. We will miss you, but am grateful for the three years you have contributed to the school community.

    Wishing you the very best,



    • afygarden says:

      Ryan and Fiona – Thank you for all of your support and for following us online! A program like this could only run with the support by parents, families, staff, organizations, and students and I have been lucky to work with and to meet all of you. Thank you for all your hard work as well! – Patty


  2. Fiona says:

    Patty – You never cease to amaze me with all the wonderful things you do for the AFY community. This really is just one in a long line of events you have organized. Thank you! Thank you! For everything! Good luck on your next adventure…..



  3. I’m inspired! Our school is going to do this next year. You’re leaving? I hope this wonderful blog will continue—it is seriously an ongoing source of inspiration for me!


    • afygarden says:

      I highly recommend it! I look forward to reading about how it works out at your program. Yes, this will be my last year as the outdoor educator and since my first year in 2011, your website has been a great resource as well. I’m definitely going to continue following. This blog will be passed over to each new outdoor educator that comes and I’m sure they will all have wonderful work and new ideas to share virtually! – Patty


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