Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?
Our journey of developing a learning garden has been just that - a big learning process.
I originally started with the NFL program because our school has a greenhouse that we have had for years, but have never gotten around to setting up. I thought this would be a great project for my grade 12 Biology students during their biodiversity unit. My plan was to start small with a greenhouse, and eventually transplant our plants into an existing garden bed at our school. At the time, our grade 7 students were exploring agriculture in their social studies class. We wanted to partner with them on this endeavour.
Unfortunately, our greenhouse did not survive the elements of the wind and ""trespassers"" on our school grounds. I ended up having to take what was left of it apart at the end of the school year and I do not believe it will be usable in future years.
The grade 12 students did work together with the grade 7 students to plant some plants that we started inside the classroom. They also planted some directly into the garden when it was warm enough.
This failure has led me to reevaluate my plan for our school learning garden. I am planning on purchasing smaller, “Plant Inn” from Costco with my $500 received from NFL in hopes to have a better head start at this project this planting season.
We have several students with special needs in our school and they would like to work on maintaining this “Plant Inn” and offer their produce to local community members at the end of the growing season.
What vegetables/fruit do you grow in your garden? What do you have a difficult time growing in your school garden?
We grew potatoes, onions, carrots, tomatoes, pumpkins (using the NFL kit), and flowers.
Our potatoes, pumpkins, and flowers grew well.
Our onions, carrots, and tomatoes did not make out very well due to some really hot days we had right after we transplanted them.
Why did your school decide to add a school garden?
We thought it would be a great way to teach our students about the importance of eating local. We also decided our school could use some "beautification" so that is why we decided to grow some flowers. We thought that the learning garden would be a good way for different grades to work together on projects, thus fostering a sense of school culture and community. We also have several special needs/life skills students that were able to learn valuable lessons from projects that used the garden.
What classes participate in the garden, what subjects are taught in the garden?
Grade 7 and students composted and planted last year. Grade 12 students planted and maintained the garden. Grade 10 life skills students also participated in garden projects.
Who manages the garden day to day? Who manages the garden over the Summer break?
Grade 7 and 12 students as well as staff members.
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?
This year our grade 12 students took home flowers from the garden at the end of the year as a "grad present". They also planted some in front of the school. The grade 7 students took the pumpkins that grew with them.
In the future I would like to have a harvest celebration, unfortunately we are just not there yet.
Do you have community involvement? Do you have parents and volunteers? Have been able to source other funding to help your garden grow?
At this point we do not have any outside involvement, as our project grows this would be something I would be interested in exploring.
We did have one community member volunteer his time and tiller to get our garden ready for planting in spring.
What are your future plans for the school garden?
As mentioned above, I am planning on spending my $500 received in the spring of 2018 on a "Plant Inn". From here, I would like to see some transplanting happen. If I am able to get more funding I would like to look into building some raised garden beds.
Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?
Failure is okay! This is a slow process, especially for schools that are just starting out with the program. You may feel like you are getting nowhere, however when you get a message from one of your graduates over the summer who can't believe how large his /her plant has grown, it will make it all worth the struggle. Don't sweat the small things!
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