EVERYDAY HOME  | 8.5.16  |  by Gia Dolney

We love school gardens!  And parents can do a lot to make them a success.  They teach science, allow open space green time, produce fresh food, and nurture caring and responsible young people.  We’ve enjoyed working with our children’s schools and thought we’d share with you some school garden tips on how parents can be involved.

Read on for school garden tips and how parents can make them great  

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Connect with resources

One of the helpful things parents can do is put two-and-two together and find resources for teachers and schools to be able to keep the school garden going.

Slow Food USA, for example, has a National School Garden Program which provides you with a guide and free seeds.  Lowes and Home Depot have grants and gift certificates.  High Mowing Seeds donates organic seeds to school garden programs.

It takes a little Googling, and maybe a few phone calls, but there’s lots more resources out there to explore.  And parents can be a big help with tracking down these resources.

Slow Food Garden Guide

Slow Food USA has a School Garden Guide for free, teaching you how to put together volunteers, fundraise, and teacher curriculum material. Image Courtesy: Slow Food USA

Offer your expertise

If you are an expert gardener, or an educated botanist or biologist, or maybe you know a lot about different types of foods and plants … schools would love to have you share!  You might be just the right person to give a special class or lecture.  Or maybe even help to volunteer heading up a science project.

Talk to your child’s teacher or school to see what might be possible.

For example, in Cape Coral, Florida the Cape Coral Charter Authority is pairing technology with its school garden.  Maybe you have technology expertise that could be paired with plants.  From the Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Students will also step outside of the box when it comes to the typical school garden.

“They will look at genetically what’s happening with the plants using technology,” Superintendent Nelson Stephenson said.

“That’s the kind of things we want to do with technology,” he added.

Look for community collaboration

Pairing the local community with a school garden often requires a volunteer parent liaison to open the possibilities and keep the pairing going.  Perhaps you can help with a farm-to-school program that coordinates your school garden and local farms in supplying fresh food for the school lunch.

Or maybe your school garden could connect with food banks to supply fresh food.

On example comes from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington which was recently awarded the 2016 Fresh Results Award from the Washington Food Coalition for its partnership with St. Leo Food Connection.   The program took the food produced by students in their horticulture and agriculture programs and brought that produce to low-income people in their community.

As a parent, you could research more about the Lincoln High School program and duplicate the effort in your neighborhood.

Utilize Scout Troops and Eagle Projects

Creating a school gardens is a perfect project for boys to get their Eagle.  Many schools would like to have a school garden and have a space for it, but they lack the manpower and resources to get it off the ground.

Once you have the space identified, your boy can talk with a landscaping expert to plan the space.  Donations of supplies — like irrigation products and plants — can be found.  Then the volunteers — your local church, the parents at the school, and older teens are usually eager to make it work on a Saturday.

Not all school gardens have to be about vegetables either.  You can consider have a native plant garden or a pollinator garden.

Spring Avenue Elementary School in LaGrange, Illinois used to have a vegetable garden but switched over to a native plant garden.  Says Jenny Hall, chairwoman of the PTO Garden Committee at mySuburbanLife.com

Originally, each class at the school would plant a crop, so the garden was a way for children to get involved with gardening and to learn more about where food comes from. But, it became difficult to maintain the crops over the summer. Now with the native plants, the children are able to learn more about the plants that were used by Native Americans.


A hummingbird garden at Jefferson Elementary School in Burbank, CA created as an Eagle project in partnership with Linda Vista Landscape Services.

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