Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?
Currently our garden is an indoor garden set up with earth boxes and a plant light. We plant in it during the school year and harvest in the spring. We are planning to expand into the school grounds, in outdoor raised garden beds, hopefully in the next year or two.
What vegetables/fruit do you grow in your garden? What do you have a difficult time growing in your school garden?
We grow purple pole beans, peas, tomatoes, nasturtiums, red peppers, cucumbers. We also grow sage, basil, parsley, and lemon balm. We have a hard time growing cucumbers and have only had blossoms but no fruit so far.
Why did your school decide to add a school garden?
The classroom teacher who started the garden is working on her Masters of Education in Sustainability, Creativity, and Innovation and has been very interested in the Green School Movement. She started with a small garden a few years ago and has been growing it every since.
What classes participate in the garden, what subjects are taught in the garden?
All of our classes are invited to spend time in the garden. We are a small school with 104 students from kindergarten to grade 5. The garden is used for science, math, art, writing, and even just to sit near when enjoying a good book. Some students like to sit in the garden area when they are feeling anxious or stressed.
Who manages the garden day to day? Who manages the garden over the Summer break?
The day to day management of the garden is done by the students in the classroom. Currently that is a grade 2 class so they will be managing it this year. In previous years it was a grade 3 classroom. Our garden is usually planted in November and harvested in April so there is no summer break to worry about. If we are able to expand into an outdoor garden we have several community partners willing to help with management over the summer.
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?
When we harvest the garden we have what we call a "Salad-bration". We make a big salad and homemade dressing with the produce from the garden and everyone gets to taste it. This past year was really exciting because we had nasturtiums to include in the garden which made the salads really pretty.
Do you have community involvement? Do you have parents and volunteers? Have been able to source other funding to help your garden grow?
Our community is very involved in our school. We have two churches who have many volunteers between them that help to run activities in our school and are willing to help with our garden. Our Parent Council is helpful with money for some garden needs, but we are looking to secure further grants so that we can expand the garden program.
What are your future plans for the school garden?
In the future, we would like to have a garden in the school yard that is maintained by the students, their families and the community members. The maintaining of the garden would be done by all and the celebration with sharing food would include everyone.
Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?
I would tell schools to go for it. There is help out there if you just look and it is one of the best things you can do for your school and your students.
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