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How to Start a School Garden

Bob has helped create both school garden and community gardens

The School Garden

What is a school garden?

Simply put a school garden is a garden on the school property. It may be a flower garden or a vegetable garden or both. The choice is up to the people who plant and tend the garden; the students with guidance and advice from teachers and parents.

A school garden is an excellent way for the parents to become involved in the school that their child(ren) attends. The garden can be a container garden, raised bed or planted directly into the ground, once again the choice belongs to the gardeners taking into consideration the available resources, such as the amount of land available and the type of land as well as the amount of time that can be dedicated to gardening.

The school garden can complement the learning experience as there are many lessons that can be based upon the garden. For one thing, students can learn how to work together to plan, plant and care for the garden.

How to get started?

The impetus for the garden may come from a teacher, a parent or a student. For the garden to work all must be involved. Regardless of who initiates the project, the school principal must be involved and the principal’s permission is essential.

If a teacher starts the project and gets the principal on board then the next step is to rally other teachers and plan a public meeting.

The students’ parents are invited to that meeting in order to inform them about the project and get them interested. Have them bring their children as well so all the concerned parties are in the room.

You will need to give them information such as the size of the garden and where on the school grounds it will be located. Having a clear purpose for the garden may help; for example will it be an edible plant garden, that can provide fresh food for the cafeteria; or will it be a native plant garden designed to introduce native plants into the area and encourage birds and butterflies.

The meeting begins with a quick overview of the project which includes the benefits that the students will receive from being involved. Then a question and answer period follows.

Be sure to have a sign up sheet handy for any parents who want to help with the garden, their assistance will be invaluable over the summer months.

If a student or group of students is eager to start a garden on the school grounds, the first step is to talk with a teacher and get his or her support; once that is done then the process becomes the same as the above for the teacher initiated garden.

If a parent or parents are interested in starting the garden, then the first step is to contact the school principal and any teachers you may know and arrange a meeting to discuss the project. A parent initiated garden may not need to hold a community meeting, as parents are already in the loop.

Once you have the principal’s permission and have students, teachers and parents o board, the final gardening decisions can be made. Decisions such as organic or not; what to plant can be worked out by the gardeners.

A school garden can provide an outdoor classroom, a source of healthy food or habitat for local wildlife or the best, all three. There are enough examples of successful school gardens around to know that it is a win win situation for your child’s education.

Gardening can help build a child’s confidence, engage their imagination, make new friends and enhance the school property.

Starting the Garden

The School Garden

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  • LifeCycles Project Society
    LifeCycles is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating awareness and initiating action around food, health, and urban sustainability in the Greater Victoria community.

The Edible Schoolyard

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Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 23, 2014:

Are the members of the Wellness and Sustainability Committee volunteers?

We, before doing anything else, make sure there is a committee with both teachers and parents on board that agree to maintain the garden during the months the school is closed. They set a schedule and share the work.

Tara McNerney from Washington, DC on March 23, 2014:

I work at a school as a Cooking and Gardening Teacher. I feel so lucky to be in a place that values that and designates funds for it - it's tough to keep up a school garden based on volunteers alone. And teachers are so busy that even those who are the most well-intentioned have trouble keeping it maintained and in use.

The biggest help for me was to start a Wellness and Sustainability Committee, composed of parents and administrators. That way I could harness a little of everyone's time and volunteer abilities.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on September 13, 2011:

Thanks for the input.

schoolgardening on September 13, 2011:

A couple more suggestions:

1) One of the most important lessons is to make sure that you have a continuity strategy by making sure the core group of organizers is in it for the long haul, and that you keep up strategies to get new families involved year after year.

2) makes it easy to get signups even if people can't attend a planning meeting - they can choose a shift from their smart phone or computer, get a reminder and show up to help.

Great, helpful advice as always, Bob.

- Mary

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 22, 2011:

The skills discovered in the garden do last a lifetime.

KC on March 21, 2011:

Give a child a vegtable feed them for a day teach them to garden and feed them for life.

noman on November 19, 2010:

this is the best school ideia ok bay

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on January 05, 2008:

Thanks ZB,

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on January 05, 2008:

Bob! When my youngest was in grade 5 she got a new to the area teacher who was is an avid gardener. She founded a "butterfly attracting garden" behind the school. My daughter got into gardening and she still enjoys it (except for the weeding and cutting the grass). So I agree that if children get gardening experience early on they will continue .

great HUB

regards Zsuzsy

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on January 05, 2008:

I agree firefly07 and that is another excellent reason to start one.

firefly07 from UK on January 05, 2008:

great hub! If you get the kids interested early enough they'll be gardeners for life.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on January 05, 2008:

Thanks Eilee

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on January 04, 2008:

Great ideas Bob, some schools are incorporating it into there leisure activities which I believe is great for the kids. Thanks for sharing

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on January 04, 2008:

you are welcome, good luck.

Abhinaya on January 04, 2008:

I need to talk to the principal of my kids' school.This is a great idea Bob.The video has excellent information.Thanks.

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