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Environmental and entrepreneurial education through gardening

Plant Academy

Jyväskylä, Finland
Plant Academy is a model for environmental and entrepreneurial education. Learning occurs in and through a greenhouse. This innovation illustrates a seasonal program for the whole year that allows anyone to implement the initiative to their school, in a small or large scale.

What is it all about?

“Lessons from the Plant Academy can be implemented into every school that allows students to get their hands dirty and start growing things.”

- Sanna Penttinen, teacher

Today, people are removed from nature and students learn about plant and animal care from books. Plant Academy brings animal and plant care to the students. They get a chance to care for plants including different herbs and flowers and even a few animals.

Plant Academy is a model centering around a greenhouse combining school life, environmental education and entrepreneurial education. The ultimate goal is to guide students towards a sustainable lifestyle – everyone forms the environment of tomorrow with the choices they make today. Plant Academy also helps students to recognize their own strengths.

Plant Academy is designed for the seasonal cycle in the northern hemisphere and the Finnish school year. Fall is a time for harvest, clearing the area and preparing for the holiday school sale. After the New Year you should plant spring crops and prepare the soil for transplants. Students can sell the seedlings they nurture in the spring.

Students grow and nurture the plants in the greenhouse. They also develop entrepreneurial skills as they market and sell their seedlings and plants to the locals. Plant Academy aligns perfectly with the reformed Finnish national core curriculum – students participate and take responsibility in a common project. Students gain a broad, hands-on education completing various tasks in the greenhouse.

Plant Academy was implemented in the fall of 2013 at the Mankola comprehensive school. At the time, the school was being founded on a site of an agricultural college. The greenhouse was last used in the 1990s. Plant Academy grew rapidly from these humble beginnings.

The Mankola comprehensive school includes much more than a greenhouse. It has a room dedicated to laboratory work and crafts for 15 students, a nature museum complete with various stuffed animals and rock samples as well as cages for budgies and finches. The greenhouse is 120 m² and most of the area is dedicated to a winter garden. The head of the greenhouse is for transplanting.

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Innovation Overview
7 - 15
Age Group
Tips for implementation
Pots, potting soil, seeds, gloves, plant labels, plastic film, spray bottles, watering cans and extra lighting during winter, if necessary.
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HundrED Review

Combining entrepreneurial and environmental education in a fascinating way.


Students learn to take responsibility for plant care and gain plenty of working life skills for the future.


The innovation can be implemented in the scale desired. The school year must be planned taking plant care into consideration.


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

You should engage students in greenhouse activities because the birds and fish tank require daily care. One method is to arrange activity lessons in the middle of the school day. This allows students to participate in the program during school hours.
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September is a harvest month.
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October is a quieter month. It's a time for fall crafts or planning the planting of next year's crops.
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November is also a slow month compared to the spring. You can use this time to prepare holiday crafts for the holiday sale.
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In December, you should organize the holiday sale. The proceeds can go to aid the greenhouse project. Students learn the basics of marketing, sales and accounting. You can include coffee and baked goods as well as a sales booth to the sale.
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In January, you should plan spring planting and order the seeds. Hear students' requests. What was especially popular the previous year?
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