Q. What's the most important thing to
consider when starting a school garden program?
A. A school-wide garden program can be
very difficult without a system for organizing and operating
it. Having a system for organizing it is as important
as the soil, water and sunshine will be to your plants.
Q. How do we start the program?
A. If you purchase The
Garden of Learning System, you’ll
receive the Owner’s Manual,
explaining how to organize and operate your program.
It details the operating plan: how the garden will be
used as an outdoor classroom, how the plots are organized,
the role of the teachers, the role of the volunteers,
the role of the garden committee, participation forms,
documents to recruit volunteers, a plot sign list, detailed
instructions for kicking off your program and more. Lesson
plans are sold separately.
Q. Who will be in charge of organizing
a school-wide garden?
A. Some schools may choose to have a single
Garden Coordinator. Depending on the size and scope of
the program, this job can easily approach half-time to
full-time hours. Other schools organize a Garden committee,
dividing the tasks and responsibilities among many volunteers
or subcommittees. The Garden
of Learning System organizes
each job by task.
Q. Will teachers play a role in organizing
all this? Can they? Should they? Will they have the time?
A. Teachers will become overburdened quickly
if they add organizing a school garden to their already
overflowing schedule. Their job in the program is to
review the lesson plan and adjust it or add anything
they want. Garden of Learning offers flexibility for
teachers. The lesson plans include a variety of subjects,
are experiential and integrate the State Standards. Teachers
are free to modify each lesson. They can bring it back
into the classroom and incorporate it into other subject
Q. How can a teacher get 20 or 30 students
to focus in a garden and give them a good academic lesson?
A. With Garden
of Learning, each class
will designate one or two reliable parent volunteers
as Garden Parents. They need to be able to commit to
two hours a week and work effectively with small groups
of students during their garden period. This allows them
to focus in a quiet setting.
Q. What grades participate?
A. Garden of Learning curriculum is designed
for grades K-6. With a good garden program, it doesn’t
take long before all classes get involved.
Q. How often will students participate
in a school garden?
A. A school garden is an outdoor lab where
learning comes to life. Each class should visit the garden
weekly during their garden period. Some schools may choose
to start off slowly and have classes visit the garden
every other week.
Q. How much time does a student spend
in the garden each week?
A. Most lessons require the entire class
to spend 1/2 hour of instruction time in the classroom,
sometime before the outdoor garden lesson. Students then
rotate through the garden for 1/2 hour at a time during
their garden period.
Q. What will students do in the garden?
A. Students work in the Garden
of Learning during the entire school year. The curriculum integrates
the sciences, environmental education, math, language
arts and reading, social studies, nutrition, art and
agriculture into the garden, while getting the jobs of
a real working organic garden done throughout the seasons.
Q. How will the lessons happen?
A. When using the Garden
of Learning System,
your coordinator(s) will build a garden calendar into
the school year. Weekly lesson plans will be distributed
to teachers and Garden Parents in advance of each lesson.
Q. Will students repeat the same lessons
year after year?
A. No. At the beginning of the school year your
coordinators can log onto www.gardenoflearningk6.com
and order the lessons for the upcoming school year.
Q. What other supplies will we need to
go with the lessons?
A. Each lesson plan comes with a page titled “A
Gardener’s Notes.” This page gives detailed
instructions on setting up the lesson, including what
materials, instructional aids, books, etc. to buy and
where they can be purchased.
Q. How large of a garden do we need?
A. The size of the garden depends on the
number of students using your program. Consider a master
plan for expanding into the future as your program grows.
Q. Who gets what space in the garden?
What if everybody wants their own space?
A. Many a school garden has gone to seed
over “property rights.” Garden
of Learning uses a collective “kibbutz” approach. The
garden is owned by the school, and each child is encouraged
to think of herself or himself as the co-owner of the
Q. What crops do we plant?
A. Plots are organized according to how
they will be used. Each plot carries a theme, and is
planted with specific, rotating crops that can provide
activities in autumn, winter and spring. For example,
lettuce will be planted in the “Bunny Brunch” plot
and butterfly flowers will be planted in the “I
Never Metamorphosis I Didn’t Like” plot.
Q. How many plots should we have?
A. A large Garden
of Learning program can
have a dozen plots or more, used by all participating
classes. The various plots will be integral to the weekly
Q. Who plants what plots?
A. Classes or grades may be assigned different
plants depending on the needs of the garden. As the crops
grow all classes tend to the whole garden. When the crops
are harvested, classes share the bounty or it may be
sold at a school Farmer’s Market or donated to
a food bank.
Q. Do we need a shed?
A. Yes, the shed will be “Garden
Central.” Each week teachers and Garden Parents
will find a master copy of the current lesson plan, as
well as detailed lesson instructions. All tools, plants,
seeds, soil amendments, instructional aids, books, videos,
etc. will be located in the shed.
Q. How much does Garden
of Learning cost?
A. At the beginning of each year log onto www.gardenoflearningk6.com.
to purchase a new year's worth of lesson plans. The system for
organizing and operating a school-wide program is sold separately.
Garden of Learning also offers
other garden materials including Farmer’s Marke.. As your
program grows you can purchase what you need.
Q. How much of an operating budget will
A. Building your infrastructure is a one-time
cost and will vary depending on the size of your garden
and labor costs. The cost to run a school garden program
depends on the number of students that will participate.
In the beginning you should be able to get your local
merchants and parents to donate items such as plants,
soil, tools, etc. You’ll need a budget for instructional
material and equipment such as videos, books, magnifying
lenses and models.
Q. How about fundraising? Where will we
get money to run and grow our program?
A. A “Farmer’s Market” held
in spring during Open House is a fabulous way to show
off the garden to parents and administration, while also
raising money. A school of 450 students with a variety
of income levels can raise $2500.00 at a school Farmer’s
Market.Garden of Learning offers curriculum and support
material to help in organizing a Farmer’s Market.
There are many grants available for school garden programs.
Parent Clubs and school administration often play a financial
role in a garden program.