Introducing Preservice Elementary Teachers to Permaculture Education



preservice teacher, permaculture education, school gardening, elementary science


Current models of best-practice in science education advocate for students to learn science by engaging in applied contexts that integrate the various science disciplines. Permaculture offers one such integrated context for elementary science. Although permaculture is relatively new in PK-12 education, the broader practice of school gardening has an established history of supporting student engagement in and conceptual understanding of science. However, many elementary teachers report feeling unprepared to implement garden-based lessons. This article examines preservice teacher (PST) idea about permaculture and views toward teaching permaculture that emerged within an elementary science methods course. The course’s pilot instructional intervention on permaculture included four components: background permaculture readings and videos, guided discussion, food forest design activity, and lesson plan analysis activity. We designed these components to engage preservice teachers both as current learners and future teachers of permaculture. Data was collected from pre/post-tests, the lesson analysis activity, and the PST daily end-of-class reflections. After the permaculture intervention, PSTs self-reported higher levels of knowledge of permaculture topics and of ways to use permaculture in their classrooms. They also effectively connected permaculture-based lesson plans to a variety of elementary learning standards. The PSTs positively viewed permaculture-based lessons as providing active, real-life learning experiences that support environmental consciousness, but viewed the cost and time required as barriers to implementing permaculture in their classrooms. Collectively, they positioned the developmental appropriateness and spatial resources required of the lessons as both advantages and disadvantages. Implications for teacher preparation and development are discussed.


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How to Cite

Sonnur Ozturk, & Michelle E. Forsythe. (2024). Introducing Preservice Elementary Teachers to Permaculture Education . Journal of Agricultural Education, 65(2), 361–382. Retrieved from



Journal of Agricultural Education