At ONFE, we believe that nutrition doesn’t stop at a healthy breakfast – it is enriched and empowered by an understanding of where food comes from, and through encouraging engagement with fresh food from seed to plate.

Classroom Gardens brings indoor gardening into classrooms across all four Ottawa school boards at no charge. Throughout the school year, and even through the cold winter months, these students are engaged learners – growing plants from seed, and learning in a hands-on way about plant life-cycles, nutrition, and entrepreneurship. Most importantly, students have the opportunity to eat the food they’ve grow, which is a proven way to get kids excited about eating healthy, fresh vegetables.

About the Program

Bring your classroom to life with immersive learning that supports the curriculum. Along with a garden tower, we also equip teachers with the tools, skills and training for thriving classroom gardens. We currently have over 112 towers in over 100 schools! Email Simon McMillan, Classroom Gardens Program Manager, at for more information. There is currently a waitlist, so get your classroom added today! We also offer robust support to teachers, with newly developed comprehensive lesson plans, demonstrations, and scientific experiments.

Hydroponic Vertical Tower

As a vertical, hydroponic (also known as aeroponic) growing system this garden tower allows students to grow vegetables and herbs indoors in an easy to learn, use and maintain system. It’s the perfect educational companion in a classroom’s journey to nutrient-rich learning. You do not need a green thumb; seeds are easy to plant and vegetables are easy to harvest.

Hydroponic garden tower with three high school students standing around it plucking lettuce and kale

Soil-Based Garden Towers

Our soil-based vertical garden tower includes an integrated vermicompost. This fully organic growing system allows students to grow 50 plants or more in just four square feet. It is a space-saving gardening container, perfect for the classroom! Students can easily grow and harvest herbs, vegetables, and more. Students get to touch soil and grow plants just like in an outdoor garden.

Classroom vermicompost tower growing lettuce
Windowsill gardens with radish plants, bean plants, chrysanthemum flowers, and tomato plants

Windowsill Gardens

Windowsill Gardens launched in 2021 as a small-scale program for in-person learning and virtual classroom models to support pandemic learning. In the 2022-2023 school year, we had 50 teachers participating in windowsill gardens. These gardens help students and teachers to start their own mini gardens, planting four edible plant varieties.

“The students became more respectful of plants and of their important role in our world. They are very aware of and understand that plants are a major source of food for humans and animals and that we need plants to clean the air. The students also became very interested in pollination and in activities about saving the bees and the bee population.” – OCDSB teacher

Support Classroom Gardens

Classroom Gardens provides hands-on learning experiences that go beyond textbooks. The program encourages curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving skills. It also promotes sustainable practices and instills a lifelong appreciation for fresh, nutritious foods. Every financial contribution to Classroom Gardens is a contribution to the growth and development of our next generation, nurturing them to build healthy social, environmental, and lifestyle habits.


Growing food in the classroom is proven way to get kids excited about eating healthy fresh vegetables, while learning about nutrition, entrepreneurship, and the wide range of career choices related to food. Learning about healthy food at school is especially critical for the one in five children in Ottawa who live in poverty. Not surprisingly, there is a direct link between nutrition and household income.


Classroom Gardens engages students of all ages, across Ottawa’s four public school boards (with a special focus on grade 3 classes) in planting, growing, harvesting, and most importantly, tasting and enjoying their own classroom garden vegetables. Each indoor classroom garden can grow up to 50 edible plants at a time, all year long. That’s a lot of healthy food to share!


Classroom Gardens engages local teachers and students in creating and tending to indoor gardens. Targeted lesson plans and growing programs connect hands-on gardening activities with curriculum goals in a variety of subjects. Students gain a better understanding of plants, food supply and demand, nutrition and healthy eating, and food-related careers.

“Garden-based learning offers a context for integrated learning. An integrated curriculum is often associated with real-life problems in contrast with a traditional subject–based curriculum. This provides a vehicle for higher order thinking as students are challenged to move beyond memorization, to see patterns and relationships and pursue a topic in depth. They are engaged in constructing knowledge rather than accumulating information and they also develop analysis and synthesis skills.”

Drake, 1998.
“Having a Classroom Garden meant having the grade 3’s testing the PH levels of the tower and gaining a better understanding of fertilizers. Making connections to our science unit on soils.”

-Guy Blais, St. Gregory School

Grow with us!

Follow along on social media as students and teachers grow food in classrooms all across Ottawa. Share your classroom garden photos using hashtag #ClassroomGardens on Instagram or Twitter (X)!

Support Classroom Gardens

Just like all ONFE programs, Classroom Gardens is offered at no charge to students to remain accessible. Help us teach kids about healthy food and the growing cycle.