Tips From Teachers
Here are some ideas from teachers who have been involved in successful school gardens.
Students (and staff!) should visit the garden frequently and consistently. Specific recommendations include:
- Use the garden for teaching purposes at least once a week.
- Have students walk by the garden every day.
- Advertise the garden at the school with signs.
- Periodically put notes in fellow teachers' mailboxes to remind them about/ give updates on the garden.
- Keep track of how frequently the garden gets used (e.g. number of students visiting each week) to help evaluate.
School-Based Support System
Garner support for the garden within the school.
- Several teachers emphasized the advantage of an interested and supportive administration. (Many benefits of school gardens are listed under Research & Publications.)
- In addition to programming during school hours, establishing an after-school club can help maintain, further develop, and encourage additional student enthusiasm for the garden.
- Integrate the garden into the school environment by encouraging all school groups, classes, and organizations to use it as broadly and often as possible.
Get Outside Help
Don’t try to do it alone! Delegate or divide garden responsibilities including maintenance, teaching, and student engagement. Some proven, useful aids include:
- Hiring a part-time staff member to care for the garden 10 hours/week.
- Partnering with another school or program to have volunteers come mentor or teach:
- Local high school classes or community service organizations.
- Advanced scholars or gifted program.
- Agricultural or horticultural programs such as 4-H.
- Making the garden part of home life as well (for example by sending home seedlings) encourages parent involvement.
These small DIY steps can make a lot of difference growing interest and facilitating management of the school garden.
- Eat what is grown.
- Showcase results.
- Look into the history of the garden if it is inherited.
- Utilize the expertise of science teachers.
- Establish the garden before making connections to the curriculum.
Specific Project Examples
The following are programs that have been used to complement the school garden successfully:
- Junior Master Gardener
- Culinary arts program (middle school)
- 10 week nutrition-centered school garden program funded by a healthcare grant
- Organic gardening as a class science project
Several teachers highlighted the fact that a school garden does not necessarily have to produce food. They recommended trying butterfly and ABC gardens, as well. The idea is to get our students outside and thinking about the environment!