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Other school gardens out there?

Posted by maryjane43 5westernNY (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 31, 10 at 14:33

Our community started a school garden last year through donations and a corporate grant through Hidden Valley Ranch. We had huge success with 6 raised beds, and are forming a nonprofit to promote gardening and healthy eating for kids.
I'd like to communicate with others out there who have similar projects.
Anyone else started a similar nonprofit?
Had much success engaging teachers in the process of using the garden in their curriculums?
One of our biggest challenges is that our Western New York climate means that the best part of the growing season is summer when school is out. Has anyone done season extenders (hoop house, greenhouses etc) with kids? They seem like lots of work and expense.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Other school gardens out there?

Season extenders can be pricy or cheap ... I made obne for a 6x20 bed out of three pieces of conduit, 6 rebar stakes and some scrap 1x8 lumber.

I'm using it for bird netting, but adding fabric would make a hoop house.

RE: Other school gardens out there?

Our Elementary School got a greenhouse last summer, and has been producing greens for the cafeteria with student work ever since. (see The head greenhouse guy tells me that he's got lots of seeds started for transplant in a month or so. I'm the one in charge of developing the new outdoor garden, and I'm trying to figure out what to do.

I did my first lesson a week ago with the 5th grade class. We looked at pictures of gardens from around the world, looking at what's being grown and how.

Next week is lesson 2. I'm thinking of doing more work on styles of garden and site requirements, and how to improve a site when all you have is a playground with thin sandy soil.

Somewhere else I saw someone say they're working on a 30' x 30' school garden plot. That's probably a good size. Once I get that by the principal, I'll need a fence and to lay out beds. I'm leaning toward four beds, 3 1/2' wide, plus 2' beds along the fence. The fence is going to have to keep out deer, porcupines, woodchucks, and playground balls.

I would like to have enough simple cold frames (movable) to cover maybe a quarter of the beds.

Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing. But I think I can figure it out in time to teach it. I've got the gardening background. It's just that this should be a showpiece.


RE: Other school gardens out there?

Our garden started as a school garden in 2003, but has evolved into a school-age daycare garden. That was mostly because the kids in the daycare had more time, interest and energy for gardening. In the summer, the daycare students (K thru 4th or 5th) are there just about from 6 to 6. During the school year, there was little time to actually garden.
The garden funds are raised through plant sales. There are only 4-H volunteers at this time. The garden has a 7 foot fence for deer. There are 2 foot beds around the 40'by40' garden. There are six 3'by 12'foot beds and two 6' by 12'beds. Some of the garden is just free flowing flower garden. There are 3 espaliered fruit trees and 3 blueberry bushes. In the summer there is enough food to send home at least 2 bags of produce for each student a week. There is also some food used for meals. Most of the food goes directly into the kid's mouths.
All seeds are started by the students. There are 200+ lettuce starts, broccoli, celery and cabbage started already.
It would be nice to have a hoop house for extended garden, but we are volunteers and need some time off. Thanksgiving works out to be the best last harvest and to start again about the middle to end of February.
I have learned that even the Kindergarten kids can learn a lot if the learning is hands on. They all learned how to do percentages (seed germination test) from planting 10 seeds and adding a zero to the number of seeds that grew.
The kids who have been doing this for 2 to three years are able to teach the new students and their parents.
We use all adult sized hand tools and they must take a safety test before allowed to use them.
There are some simple books on insects and weeds that I have available for them to look up what they find. Edible plants (weeds) are identified. There are no poisonous plants in the garden, but many edible flowers and unusual vegetables. Each year I let the children choose what they want to grow. Last year almost everyone hated tomatoes, but loved broccoli and brussel sprouts. This year it is lettuce, corn, spinach, peas and beans that are on the list to grow.
I have found that the kids learn if the people working with them are enjoying learning and they get to do things rather than just listening.

RE: Other school gardens out there?

I should add that our school has 63 students this year. If we were full to the school's design limits, we'd have 80 or more students. That has to have something to do with how big the garden should be.


RE: Other school gardens out there?

Another great season extender/beginner for a school garden is a raised bed. Early in spring, you can cover it with plastic and use it as a coldframe or green house. As the season progreses, it also helps the little children identify the boundaries for their feet! If you have the option of placing the beds near a masonry south facing area, all the better for a nice microclimate, especially in the Northern regions. One of the low cost recyclable season extenders we used last year were small coldframes/greenhouses made of CD cases. Gorgeous and useful! Try visiting furniture showrooms and asking for the hundreds of yards of heavy weight plastic coverings they use on furnitue. It is often 84' wide and 10-20 feet long. You can't ask for a better season extender than that sturdy light admitting product. Good Luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: The Garden Green Angels

RE: Other school gardens out there?

We have been active creating school gardens. The first one was a kindergarten garden, and the kids really love it.
We just finished another school garden at a K-6 middle school. It was a stunning day constructing the garden beds with so many kids turning out to help work on their own school.

I put up a web site to advertise this and another up-coming program and it is linked below. The photos and movies are great and show what the kids accomplished (with some parental help, but not that much).

Here is a link that might be useful: School / Community Garden Project

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