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 on 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 follow.
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 are 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.