Teachers can bring science to life simply by planting a garden at school. Your students get to tend the garden as the watch how plants grow. Here are some tips for getting started if you want to plant a school garden.
The first step is getting approval for the project. Your principal might not be happy if you start digging up grass without permission. Plan out the dimensions and what you want to plant before you get permission. Present the information to your principal before proceeding.
Plan With the Kids
Focus on your students when starting a school garden. Since you want your kids to learn from the garden, you want the experience to be meaningful for them. Get the kids involved from the very beginning of the garden process. Have the kids research different vegetables to grow in the garden. Have them figure out what type of growing conditions each plant needs. Draw out a diagram of the garden area so your students can plot out where they will plant each vegetable.
Involve the Community
You don’t have to go it alone when starting a school garden. Contact a local nursery or home improvement store to see if they will donate materials to make raised beds. Have a master gardener or farmer from the area talk to the kids about how to grow a successful garden. You might even get them to review your garden plans or help guide the planning process.
Connect to the Classroom
Use the school garden as a learning tool. Instead of just growing plants, document how they grow. Use what you learn about plant growth to analyze what’s happening in the garden. Invite other classrooms to learn from your garden as well.
Create a Schedule
With so many gardeners taking care of the space, you’ll want a regular care schedule for the school garden. This ensures the plants don’t get too much water or end up getting neglected. If several classes help with the garden, rotate which class cares for the garden each week. Have the classes keep a record of any care done to the garden so you can track what has been done.
The growing season typically goes throughout the summer. That means you’ll need to plan for someone to come in during the summer to water and care for the plants. If the school has a summer care program for students, consider asking them if they can take over the care during the summer months.
Use the Food
Another way to learn from the garden is to use what you produce. Have the kids use the vegetables in a recipe. If you have an abundance of food, you might want to donate some of it to a local food pantry. Many pantries accept fresh foods. This can turn the garden into a community service project as well.