South Carolina 4-H Small Garden Project

The purpose of the Small Garden Project is to educate the youth of South Carolina on where and how their food is grown using hands-on, in-the-garden experiences.  

Newsletters  Record Book Login

Tutorial on how to access your online record book (PDF 1.5MB)

Youth will:

  • Set goals and plan activities and strategies to achieve those outcomes, even in the face of challenges.

  • Reflect on their work by documenting their skill development and learning experiences.

  • Give back to their communities through educational and service activities.

  • Learn valuable skills in record keeping, financial management, and communication.

  • Become good stewards of the environment and gain technical expertise that can promote beneficial practices.

Age Divisions: (all ages are as of January 1, 2018) Each youth will receive 1 copy of the project record book.  Additional copies can be printed from this webpage. 

  • Project for individuals (1 person) 
      • Cloverbud, 5-8 years of age
      • Junior, 9-13 years of age 
      • Senior, 14-18 years of age 
  • Group Projects (2 or more individuals) <--Reduced numbers of group due to COVID-19
      • Cloverbud Group (5-8 years of age) 
      • Jr./Sr. Group (9-18 years of age) 

Cost: $12 for project registration for 4-H members; 4-H membership is also expected via 4HOnline for an additional $15 and includes a 4-H T-shirt.  For questions related to membership, please contact your local County Extension Office


  • Guidelines for Individuals (PDF 0.8MB) and Guidelines for Groups (PDF 0.8MB)
  • All participants must be current South Carolina 4-H members for the 2019-2020 club year.
  • All groups or individuals registered will receive access to a project record book, 1 seed packet of edible plants, 1 seed packet for pollinator-friendly plants, and project newsletters.  Youth must plant the 2 seed varieties they are given (one pollinator and one edible). In addition, they must plant at least 2 other edible crops of their choice. If spacing allows, you may plant more than 4 types of crops.
  • Youth must prepare, plant, maintain, and harvest a garden plot of no less than 50 sq ft. (If you do not have the required amount of space, consult your local 4-H Agent.)
  • Expect a site visit from judges coordinated by your local Agent by July 27.
  • Record books and evaluations must be returned to be eligible for awards. Judging rubric (PDF 0.6MB)
      • County winners from the Junior, Senior, and Group divisions will be eligible for judging at the regional and state level if they score a 165/220 (75%) or higher. 
      • State winners are not eligible for awards in the same division for 1 year following their state win.  (For example, a Junior State winner from 2019 may not compete for awards in the individual Junior category in 2020.  They have to wait until 2021, or age up to the Senior division in 2020 or participate in a Group project for 2020 to be eligible for awards.) 

Project (runs April - July)

  • Project materials should be available for pick up at your local Extension Office no later than the end of April 2020 (and not before April 18th).

  • Gardens should be planted no later than May 31st. 

  • Site visit must occur prior to July 27th

  • Record books should be submitted by the close of business on July 31st. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

    • What does this project involve?
      Youth will be supplied with a record book and a few seed packets to help get them started. Youth will be responsible for managing a small garden (50 sq ft.) and keeping records throughout the project season. Record books have been specifically designed for each age division. At the end of the project, youth will submit their record book for judging at the county level. County-winning record books in the Junior and Senior age divisions will advance to the regional- and state-level for judging.
    • Are there any changes from last year's project?
      The number of youth needed to qualify as a "Group" has increased from a minimum of two youth to a minimum of five youth to better align with our 4-H club model. ***NOTE: This change has been recended due to COVID-19 and trying to minimize in-person social contact***
    • Do 4-H'ers have to own the land that the garden is on to participate in this project?
      No, youth do not have to own the land or tools associated with gardening to participate in this project, but they will need access to those resources (not supplied by the project). Youth need to be responsible for preparing, planting, maintaining, and harvesting their garden and recording their efforts (setting goals, making decisions, learning, etc.).
    • Can youth plant their garden in containers? 
      Yes, youth can use non-traditional methods to plant their garden, such as containers or straw bales, as long as the total garden area adds up to the 50 sq ft minimum and youth explain why they chose that format in their record book.  We do not currently allow for hydroponic gardens (or those without a soil or solid base for roots to contact).  
    • What if we don't know anything about gardening, can we still enroll in this project?
      YES!!! This project is designed to be a learning experience and provide flexible opportunities to engage youth in the active role of gardening. Your local County Extension Office and Clemson Extension's Home and Garden Information Center should serve as a good resources for you.