How to Coordinate a School Garden

School gardens are really starting to pop up all over Canada and I know that many other countries have been on this trek for quite some time already. There are many reasons why I feel every school should have a space set aside for a garden but I’ve narrowed it down to three.

First off, gardening helps to foster a connection to food as well as give kids the chance to take nutrition into their own hands. The process of planting a seed, watching a plant grow and then seeing how it bears its fruit is miraculous. The feeling of harvesting this fruit is one I wholeheartedly recommend if you have the chance.

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Secondly a garden helps to provide the chance for hands on learning. We all know that experience is the best way to learn and there are countless ways that teachers can connect the curriculum to growing food.

Thirdly, kids love it! Trust me, I saw it with my own eyes again and again. There is something for everyone in the garden. Some kids love to dig, while others love to plant seeds. Everyone loves to harvest!

I was able to see the process first hand from my latest contract in Tofino BC Canada. Read more about it here! It was my duty to organize and implement a gardening program.

The contract outlined that the amount of time I would be paid was for about 2 hours a week. This is a position that I could easily have spent hours and hours on but realized the importance of balance and vowed to only put in an extra 2 hours per week of my own time without payment. Luckily I only had to do this for the first year as I got a raise in my second year!

kids in the garden

Along with the hourly pay, I was awarded the opportunity to take a Food Growing Course (with COG) which provided me with fantastic knowledge on organic gardening. I would be the first person to take on this title at the school so there was not any training only exceptional support and guidance from the organization's founder. After the course, I was introduced to the key players at the school, shown how to implement a compost program by a fantastic composting guru and away I went.

I was lucky as there had been many folks before me who had already built garden beds and purchased a few tools including turning composters. These folks were all volunteers though and the incredible organization I was hired by realized it would be better to have someone who was paid for this role.

I will totally admit to you that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing the whole time. I just knew that I possessed the skills to get the job done and my heart was so happy at taking on the task. The first year for me was so much trial and error. Every day was a learning opportunity for me and trying to understand how that particular school worked already, what was needed from me and how I could fit into their already functioning school was my goal.

School Garden Drop in

I realized that you can have so many ideas as to how you would like things to go but when it comes down to the truth of the situation, you need to surrender to how you can fit in rather then force yourself upon the establishment.

After the first year and many experiments later I created a simple outline of a plan for that particular school.

I found that holding a weekly gardening drop in during the longer lunch recess was a success. We would get the kids to water, dig, plant and harvest.

Having the principal announce the drop in before recess started to welcome the kids improved attendance. I would also recommend having one or two volunteers come along to help manage the kids.

I also learned that most teachers are interested in having a garden plot for their class to take care of but do not feel they have much time to organize it. This is where I would come in to help.

One teacher and I would organize about an hour of time that while her class was doing their reading/quiet time she would send them outside in groups of 5 or 6 to do an activity with me.

She then was able to continue sending the kids out in pairs every other day to water the garden and pull weeds.

There was another teacher who was an experienced gardener and just had me set up her math group with all the seeds and supplies she needed and she conducted exercises in the garden to help them learn their math lessons.

There is so much more room for growth and only time can perfect the garden program but I feel happy for the work I did. Unfortunately I felt the need to move on from that town and thus had to move on from the position. It was a hard decision to make as that position was a dream come true and there is always growing to do with the garden!

The program is still going and I have absolute confidence that I left the project in the phenomenal hands of an expert organize gardener and super guru organizer!

I created a guide which I left the organizers with, if you are interested in reading it to help yourself create a plan and organize a school garden please contact me and I will send it over to you!

Any questions? Get a hold of me, I would LOVE to hear from you!

Thanks for reading ♡

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