Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?
Our garden is still in the building stages. It currently has 4 raised beds from galvanized water troughs. 3 of them are 2’ high, 2’ wide and 6 feet long. The fourth one is 2’ high, 3’ wide and 8’ long. They are all plumbed in with an underground watering system that runs on a timer. We also have a 4’x6’ garden shed to keep all our gardening tools and our seed starting equipment safe and out of the way.
When our garden is complete, it will consist of a total of 9 raised beds. 8 of them will be 2’x2’x6’ and one will be 2’x3’x8’. There will be 4 cattle panel arches that will lead you into the garden. Each classroom will be responsible for taking care of their own bed. We will also have a compost bin set up near the garden as a teaching tool to teach us about soil health and limit the food waste in our school.
What vegetables/fruit do you grow in your garden? What do you have a difficult time growing in your school garden?
We plan to grow a mix of quickly maturing vegetables that we can harvest before summer, and vegetables that they can harvest in September when they come back. Leafy greens, radishes, carrots, beans, garlic, onions, tomatoes and peppers just to name a few. Kids will also have a say in what they want to plant.
Why did your school decide to add a school garden?
Our school decided to add a school garden because knowing where your food comes from is part of sustainable living. Knowing how to grow food seems to be a lost teaching now a days. Taking the kids outside and learning in the garden may be beneficial in many ways.
What classes participate in the garden, what subjects are taught in the garden?
Once the garden is completed, each class will have their own garden to maintain. For now, we will learn how to share, and respect, our schoolmates’ space in the garden. Many subjects can be taught in the garden. Math, science, and ELA can be used in grade 3 and 4. Counting, colour recognition and sorting can be used in grades k-2. All this can be accomplished with the use of our seeding square. The garden can be used for any subject.
Who manages the garden day to day? Who manages the garden over the Summer break?
Each class will be responsible for maintaining their garden. They will decide what to plant, how to maintain, what to do with the harvest. The head custodian will watch over the garden over the summer. Kids will be encouraged to take their families to the garden during the summer to harvest from it.
What do you do with the harvest from your garden? Do you have a harvest celebration? Do you use it in the cafeteria, or culinary classes? Do you donate some of the produce?
We plan to eat a lot of our harvest. Whether it is adding it to our healthy snack program or having kids try something new. If there is an abundance of produce, having kids take some home to share with their families. Having kids decide who to donate it to will show the kids the importance of sharing and doing something nice for their community.
Do you have community involvement? Do you have parents and volunteers? Have been able to source other funding to help your garden grow?
The community has played a big part in helping us get the garden built. There were some businesses that donated their time, some gave a cash donation and some sponsored certain items for the garden.
What are your future plans for the school garden?
Future plans for the garden will depend on how much we want to use the garden space. The way the garden is set up, we can easily build mini greenhouses or low tunnels with pex pipe and plastic row covers over a couple beds to extend the growing season in the spring and fall. A garden club made up of students is another plan that we might explore once the garden gets going.
Finding a way to make the garden self-sufficient will also be something we want to work on moving forward. Teaching students how to save seeds for future plantings or selling seeds and seedlings can be an option we can use to help fund our garden needs.
Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?
Go for it. Watching the kids' excitement when they go out to the garden is priceless.
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