How to grow a school garden
Would you school benefit from knowing how to grow a school garden?
School gardens have become a staple in almost every city. Parents, teachers and school administrators have realized that having a garden on school property gives students a sense of ownership of what they are eating. The process of planning, planting and growing a school garden also helps children understand how their food is grown and the economy of food production.
Not only do children learn about gardening, but all their senses are used in cultivating a garden. Other subjects such as math, geography, and science studies can be integrated in a school garden project. Younger students will learn to identify fruits and vegetables, as well as get to taste them at their freshest. Students will be given responsibilities and engage in the process from the beginning.
To start a garden, availability of a huge outdoor space is at times the limitation, but gardens can be started on windowsills or indoor potted plants. Use large planter earthboxes if you have limited space for a student garden, but want a rich growing experience. A window or planter garden actually keeps the garden in close vicinity to the children, who can watch their plants grow every day and can record their daily observations.
School gardens can also focus on flowers and the wildlife they attract, such as hummingbirds. Projects on pollination can be assigned, as well as observing how birds and insects pollinate in their flower garden.
Planting a flower bed with specific flowers to attract birds is a fun way to get kids engaged in a school garden project.
Steps and Guidelines to growing a school garden:
- Develop the concept: decide on whether you'd like an herb garden, a flower garden or a vegetable garden.
- Plan: develop a plan for where and when you will start this project, as well as get committees started.
- Fund-raising: this is an important part of this project, since funds must come from someplace. Hold bake sales, as well as activities such as car washes to raise money for the gardening tools and supplies.
- Design and organize space: decide on whether you will start your garden indoors or go straight for the outdoors. Organize the space for each plant to have enough growing ground.
- Prepare the land: fertilize the ground, rotate the soil and check ph levels.
- Engage parents: send out flyers to parents about the garden and how they can help!
- Teach a basic gardening course: source a local gardening expert and offer a Saturday class on the basics of gardening, so your students can better understand their part in the school garden.
- Plant: purchase seeds and start planting!
- Harvest: after the produce has grown and is ready to be harvested, create a main harvest event to get everyone of the participants involved.
- Cook: host cooking classes to teach students and parents to cook the fresh produce.
These are all general guidelines that will help your school on its way to having your own student garden, but each step could be personalized to your own choices. Some schools decide to start small, others go all out and create a small facsimile of a farm!
No matter where you start, the important thing is starting as soon as possible. Soon enough, your students will be eating fresh tomato salsa made from the tomatoes they grew!