Jumpstart a School Garden With Repurposed Milk & Juice Cartons (And Win Up to $2500)

CC BY 2.0. Ben Garrett

Got milk cartons? Put them to work in a school garden in a creative and useful manner for the Carton 2 Garden contest.

School gardens can provide a number of benefits to students, teachers, and schools, and can serve as living laboratories where kids can observe, learn, and experiment, while also growing fresh food and nurturing a healthy appetite for good clean fun. And although some school and urban garden programs are very successful at what they do, and are inspiring kids and their families to get more involved with their food system, we've still got a long way to go before every school has their own garden, even if it's just a small one.

One strategy for schools, teachers, and parents to help boost a school garden program in their community (or to help start one) is to start small and think creatively, using the resources at hand, in order to attract more interest and funding for the project, and to then expand it as more resources become available. The Carton 2 Garden contest, which offers prizes of up to $2500 USD for building or enhancing school gardens, is centered around using something which is present at just about every school in the country, the humble milk and juice carton.

The Carton 2 Garden contest, which is open to any public, private, or charter K-12 school in the US, is looking for the most creative or most appropriate use of repurposed juice and milk cartons in a school garden. The contest will award prize packages worth more than $1000 to 16 winners across 8 regions, as well as to 4 national winners, who will receive prizes worth up to $2500.

The entries must use at least 100 cartons, and will be judged according to their quality, creativity, and sustainability, but they don't have look like just another seed-starting project, as the cartons can be used in many other ways in the school garden, such as garden art, as scarecrows, row covers, as part of an irrigation or watering system, etc.

Entries are due by April 22, 2015, and winners will be announced on Friday, May 22, 2015. For more info about the contest, which is sponsored by Evergreen Packaging and Kids Gardening, or for helpful school gardening resources, go to Carton 2 Garden.