Starting a School Garden

By Eve Pranis

If you're planning a school garden for the first time, there are a range of questions to consider. Some of these are listed below.

About the plan...

  • What are your goals in starting a school or class garden?
  • How do you plan to use the garden as an instructional tool?
  • Do you have support from the administration and custodian?
  • What kinds of tools and supplies will you need?
  • How much will it cost and how can you find funds and materials?
  • How can you ensure maintenance of the garden during the summer?

About the potential site...

  • Is it well drained?
  • Is it easily accessible and protected from vandalism?
  • Does it have full sunlight for at least six hours a day?
  • Is it reasonably level?
  • Does it have access to water?
  • How healthy is the soil? Do you have at least 6 to 12 inches of topsoil? What needs to be done to prepare or enhance the soil?

About cultivating support...

  • Can you ask parents to donate materials, help prepare the site, work with students, or provide support through the summer?
  • Are there local farmers or gardeners who might help prepare the site (e.g., provide plowing, manure, or lime)?
  • Are there local garden clubs, senior centers, master gardeners, or high school groups who might be willing to work with students in the garden?
  • Are there nursery or local business people who might be willing to "adopt" your program and/or donate gardening tools and supplies, materials for building raised beds, and so on?

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