One of Katy Brantley’s summer garden interns hard at work.

The biggest irony of the school garden is that it often goes untended during summer, the peak season. This is no coincidence; what we now call “summer vacation” used to be the time when most parents needed their children at home in the fields, planting and harvesting.

Now that the majority of Americans are no longer farmers, however, schools have become many children’s sole exposure to agriculture. But the good news is that they’re far from scarce; schools across the country are scrambling to set up food-producing gardens and take advantage of the hands-on lessons they provide.