Planning a kitchen garden– plant what where?

Design Guide

Designers for Learning - Adult Learning Zone

Part 1: Lesson Description

Lesson Title

Planning a kitchen garden– plant what where?


The target audience of this lesson are adult learners at basic level who may have reading difficulties or need to refresh or improve their reading fluency and who have an interest in agriculture or gardening.

The lesson is built around planning a small kitchen garden, ideally with a tie-in to a hands on project, and includes an option for instruction using Systemic Functional Grammar. The lesson aims to help learners construct a mental model from a text; enable learners to answer 'what' and 'where' questions about key details in a text; and help learners develop reading skills and strategies which may later be useful in examinations like the GED.

Learner Audience / Primary Users

The learner audience consists of dysfluent adult learners, or adult learners who need to develop and improve literacy skills and strategies, with a view to eventually taking the GED. Although aimed at learners in a rural setting or with a rural background, the lesson may also suit urban learners with an interest in gardening or in supplementing their income through home food production. In institutional settings, ideally, this and further lessons could be integrated with the development of a community kitchen garden.

Educational Use


College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment

Level: Adult Education

Grade Level: B

Subject: English Language Arts / Literacy

Strand: Reading - Reading of Informational Text

CCR Anchor 1: Students will be able to ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text. (RI/RL.2.1)

CCR Anchor 7: Students will be able to integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.



Material Type

Instructional material

Learning Goals

The purpose of this lesson is for learners to be able to:

- build literacy and reading fluency, and skills which will enable them to read closely to extract and use key information from written discourse.

- integrate and evaluate content present in different formats

- acquire knowledge related to companion planting whilst planning a small kitchen garden.


Designers for Learning

Adult Education

Reading; dysfluency; gardening; systemic functional linguistics; what; where

Time Required for Lesson

30 minutes

Prior Knowledge

Some very basic knowledge of systemic functional grammar clause constituents, (Participants, Process, Circumstances – see appendix1), may be useful, bit it is not essential. The lesson can be easily edited and delivered without reference to it.

Required Resources

Companion Planting Lesson Plan

Download: Companion Planting Lesson Plan_2.odt

Download: Companion Planting Lesson Plan_SFG_2.odt

Companion Planting Table – completed

Download: Companion Planting Table_completed.odt

Companion Planting Worksheet 1

Download: Companion Planting Worksheet 1.odt

Companion Planting Worksheet 2

Download: Companion Planting Worksheet 2_1.odt


Download: Appendix1_PPC.odt

Lesson Author & License

Lesson Author: David Cowell

License: Creative Commons CC BY NC 4.0 license

Part 2: Lesson

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, the learner should be able to:

- identify what and where key data in a text

- extract and organise key data into a table

- transfer key data from text to graphic form and draft a blueprint

- check data in graphic form against information in a text

Lesson Topics

Key topics covered in this lesson include:

Growing your own vegetables

Planning a small kitchen garden

Companion planting

Context Summary

Adult Education often centres around a diversity of 'real world' problems which provide teaching and learning environments for cultivating many of the academic skills necessary for day to day life or examinations like the GED. A single context carefully nurtured and developed over time, such as an individual or community kitchen garden project could provide fertile ground to integrate, and put into practice in real life, basic reading and maths skills gained in the classroom.

Such a context may appeal to the creative or practical instincts of the learners, or offer a financial or health benefit. As well as providing an environment for constructive learning, under the project umbrella, learners could also have the opportunity to acquire and develop critical thinking and organizational skills and, together with their own reading and maths skills, watch them grow in tandem with their garden.

Relevance to Practice

Literacy is a fundamental enabler in everyday life. Awareness of how written discourse is constructed, and practice in the extraction, manipulation, and transformation of key data from written discourse into a usable commodity support proficiency in literacy. Tangible proof of proficiency, like the GED, can open the door to career development.

For some adults, attaining such proficiency can seem a daunting prospect which causes negative motivational effects. Incremental concrete and tangible gains made from the application of academic skills outside of the classroom encourage their use and acquisition and this lesson attempts to provide graduated skills in a relevant transferable context.

Optional material, tailored for instruction using Systemic Functional Grammar has been provided for teachers who might wish to use this approach.

Key Terms and Concepts

Companion planting: the practice of cultivating fruit and vegetables on a small scale based on the beneficial or detrimental effects of proximity between species.

Instructional Strategies and Activities

(For a full account see Companion Planting Lesson Plan)

Warm-Up (The kitchen garden)

Time: 2 minutes

Elicit learners experience of growing their own food. What are the benefits and difficulties?

Introduction (Companion planting)

Time: 2 minutes

Suggest organization can increase efficiency and benefit. Companion planting is one way to organise your garden.

Put simply – some plants like each other and some plants don't.

Inform learners they will:

Use a text to complete a simple table of companion plants.

Use the table to create a graphic kitchen garden plan.

Use the graphic plan to write a short text.

Check the text and plan to see if they match each other and the information given about companion plants.

Presentation / Modelling / Demonstration

Time: 5 minutes

Teacher (boardwork)

1.Show likes and dislikes of 4 vegetables in simple sentences:

e.g.Tomatoes like peppers.

2.Demonstrate transfer of data from text to table:

3.Demonstrate transfer of data to garden plan:

4. Demonstrate written description of plan:

Guided Practice (worksheet 1)

Time: 8 minutes

Learners transfer key data from running text to table.

Learners use the table to complete the garden plan.


Time: 2 minutes

Learners can check and compare with a partner.

Teacher can ask some learners to describe their plan. There is no single correct answer, but it may be useful to elicit and write on board vocabulary for location.

Teacher provides and gives instructions for worksheet 2

Application (worksheet 2)

Time: 8 minutes

Worksheet 2 contains an empty six-segmented garden plan and 6 scaffolded lines for writing a written description of the learner's plan from worksheet 1.

Learners do not complete the empty plan.

Learners complete the sentences using their plan from worksheet 1.

Teacher collects worksheet 2 and redistributes them to different learners.


1. complete the plan using the written instruction;

2. use their companion plant table check that no plants have neighbors they do not like.

When complete, learners find the authors of the written description, check that the two plans are the same, discuss any problems; discuss any different choices( of vegetable) they would make and why.

Teacher sums up what learners have learnt. Asks for suggestions for next practical steps (learners think about real garden size/ shape; contents etc)

Part 3: Supplementary Resources & References

Supplementary Resources


Attribution Statements

CC Attribution

This course content is offered by Designers for Learning under a CC Attribution license.
Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted.        

(Design Guide effective March 29, 2016)

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