August is Here …

… which means my back to school panic mode has begun to set in. For those who don’t work in fields where they get their summer’s mostly off, every summer – just when you think that the slow pace of the long days is really the way we should live, the reminder that Labor Day is right around the corner comes as a bit of a jolt. The summer letters written to welcome the new class was due, meetings among faculty (not for social reasons) are starting to happen, my work email inbox is getting a little fuller, and I received my school’s Spring/Summer update. The latter reminded me that I’ll be moving to a brand new classroom in a building that will focus on sustainability. One of the key features will be that each grade will have its own raised garden bed to tend to each year. What do I know about gardening? First of all, I suppose I will have to build in time to the schedule so that the children can plant, water, fertilize (naturally, of course), ¬†create garden signage or art, learn about where food comes from, insects and animals, native and sustainable plants, just to name a few. Then of course, we would make sure to link and integrate math, reading and writing while we’re at it.

I borrowed this great book from the public library (but to be honest, it’s a little overwhelming for someone who only just learned how to prune roses – thanks, Susan!) called How To Grow A School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers. Blogging about it will force me to read and learn.

At least the first few chapters are straightforward.

Ch. 1 Why School Gardens?

  • They enhance academic achievement
  • They promote healthy lifestyles
  • They instill an environmental stewardship ethic
  • They encourage community and social development
  • They instill a sense of space

You can’t really argue with those, can you?

Ch. 2 Laying the Groundwork

Luckily, our lower school math teacher is also a master gardner and many of my co-teachers have the expertise to get us novices started. Those who were most interested, parents and teachers alike were consulted, and with a new school being built, I’m assuming that the garden will magically just appear at some point. And this chapter mentions the issue of funding (many thanks to our generous community who is supporting this and our development admin team).

Ch. 3 Getting the Most from Your Site

  • Who’s going to use it?
  • Who’s going to manage it?
  • Will there be a tool shed?
  • Will that shed contain clipboards, writing materials, gardening supplies, etc.
  • Can that shed double as a teaching area?
  • Are the pathways inviting for little ones?

Well that was also taken care of by the garden committee and architects, so again, my fingers are crossed.

Ch. 4. Groundbreaking, Budgeting, and Fundraising

I have always found fundraising a great “real world” way to involve kids, but since we are an entire school that tries to raise funds each year, fundraising as a class activity has been frowned upon. If you think of the math involved, the publicity and outreach, and the positive social learning, it can be a great learning opportunity.

The next part of the book is where I will be learning a lot. It focuses on curricular activities and ideas, including garden maintenance once you’ve got the garden going. There are some great web resources available too that I’ve stumbled upon:

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6 thoughts on “August is Here …

  1. Anthony, I’m excited about our on site gardening beds and that our whole community will be learning from our gardening experience.
    I have always loved the work Marilyn has done with the children.The kinders graphing creatures found in the compost is one of my favorite fun events.
    I have been looking at what other schools are doing and see that most started small and worked up to some amazing projects- like giving food to food banks or supplying their own lunch programs.
    Our space may limited but our thoughts and ideas are not! This is going to be fun!

    • I’m excited too. A little nervous about it, as it was nice to show up to Marilyn’s garden. Having them learn about tending the garden and being responsible for what grows there will be awesome.

  2. tick, tock, tick, tock. The clock winds down! I was chuckling yesterday as August 1st was the day that fall sport practices could begin in Mt. View and teams and kids were back on campus. A warning shot that first day was on the way. Speaking of, when are you going to comment on Seattle’s short school year….:)

  3. This will be another great opportunity for our faculty to share the wealth! We have several passionate, gifted gardeners on our staff who could share their expertise with us. Perhaps they could spearhead and help guide us all through this first year of gardening.

    As Becky mentioned we have neighboring schools who have gardened for years. Let’s consult with them and learn from their invented wheel.

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