School Gardening provides students a living laboratory where they can observe, discover, experiment, and learn from real life experiences. It encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.
Planning for a school garden is crucial for a successful project. Ask yourself:
- What is the goal of the garden?
- What kinds of plants are appropriate for our location?
- What is the orientation of the proposed garden site in relation to the sun and wind?
- Who will maintain the garden and how will it be maintained?
- What will be your water source, and just as important, how is water drained from your site?
Finding the best location for your garden project will require some investigation. Dry earth, empty fields and even mud can be turned into native landscapes, outdoor laboratories, vegetable plots, herb gardens, and study areas. However, keep in mind, for vegetable and herb gardens, avoid locations that are exposed to nearby pollutants, such as highways, airports, industrial complexes, or areas referred to as brownfields.
Soil is an essential ingredient in a healthy school garden. Good soil makes for a successful garden because it provides the essential nutrients needed by your plants. So, before making a final decision on the garden site, it’s important to collect a sample of the soil to assess the quality of the soil—have your soil tested for pH, nutrients, as well as determining if there are any potential contamination issues, such as heavy metal and pesticides.
Every garden needs water. Keeping your garden close to a water source makes maintenance easier. There are a couple of sources of water to consider—municipal drinking water, creeks & streams, rain collection, etc. Then there are also various distribution systems and type of watering methods to consider.
Pests are any organisms that cause injury to humans, animals and plants. In the case of garden, it can include fungus, weeds, insects, rodents, just to name a few. IPM should be used to manage pests in school gardens. If pesticides must be used, contact the school district’s maintenance department for guidance on how to use pesticides legally, safely, and in accordance with school district policies and procedures regarding pesticides.