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I am thinking of managing our local primary school garden. I need to submit a plan.

Whilst I have tons of ideas, I don't want to reinvent the wheel.

Any advice or sources of information on planning for a primary school kitchen garden?

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Have you read Dave's school garden posts? There could be some answers there.

Most recently: HERE

By plan do you mean layout? Our have several small beds and some raised beds. But now , with the woodchip mulch down, I'm encouraging the children to walk on some of the beds.

Veges? Main one ASAP to plant are Tommy Toe Tomatoes and lettuces. Then selected herbs. After that:

  • Zucchini
  • Egg Plant (the kids love the colour)
  • Cabbages
  • Carrots
  • Loofa
  • Passionfruit
  • Corn
  • etc

Keeping in mind the length of term and the harvest dates.

We also plant our own seeds and generally it is best to use large seeds like beans, sunflowers, Silver Beet, etc. for the young fingers.

Key question: what happens to the garden over the holidays? We have usually covered the beds with weedmat over the Summer break.

Our children are not allowed to use tools(true!) so we plant using spoons.

It's like any other garden really...except the children do the work. We have a cubby, scarecrows, worm farm and (slowly) growing maze.Some perennials . We also have a huge shade tunnel which is far too big for our needs...and a couple of bee hives.

In the main we improvise depending on creativity and the seasons. We try to run a stall once per term and we have fresh-from-the garden cook ups like green salads, pizza, potato salads and salsas. All the produce we harvest either goes to the kids or the school community.

A year ago:

hI Valerie.my wifes school has small plots and they tend to go for the easier stuff herbs etc cherry tomatoes flowers and they are all in small above ground beds and oh dont forget the worm towers lol.Would be happy to give you some free for your school if they are interested in using them.

The core question about a primary school garden is why?

If you focus on the why then you'll get to work out the means.

  • Is it to be for 'a' grade or several grades?
  • Is it to be incorporated into the curriculum with time set aside for gardening?
  • What will the garden supposedly teach the children?
  • Is the P&C pushing and supporting a gardening program?
  • Who, among the teachers, will be the key liaison for the gardening activities?
  • Would these teachers be limited in their outdoor time & flexibility?
  • Will any teacher be teaching students in the garden?
  • How many children will be involved in 'gardening'?
  • Do any of these kids present behavior challenges?

A garden can be a hobby for 'a' grade. It can be a chill out and distraction area for children who have attention issues in class. Gardening can be an excuse for maths and science exercises.Growing food has nutritional and awareness benefits that are not usually included in the syllabus -- but are close to most parents' hearts.

I've gone through three principals and the policy approach has varied with each one of them. Although what has happened  is that the garden's role in the curriculum has increased. In part this is because we are getting better at it as we learn from experience.

A school garden occupies a space 24/7 -- so  the key questions are how often will it be used and by whom?

That leads onto the challenge of who looks after and maintains the garden, organises the planting out, pulls the weeds...and waters it.

And water: where from and is it easy to access and use?

Nonetheless, once you start then everything else seems to follow as the horticultural logic kicks in. As the school community embraces the garden the world is your oyster. Collectively we do great things primarily because we make it up as we go.

I should add that vandalism could be a problem so you need to be prepared that that sort of acting out may occur as any garden is not going to be a secured space -- even if  fenced, like ours.

Wow. All great comments. I did catch myself thinking this morning that I did not think I could give back the value the P&C paid the gardener last year. I know there is support among the parents but teacher support seems to be more challenging. 
Lots of great food for thought eheh. 

With a new temporary principal and a new P&C getting elected next month, things should certainly get interesting. Unless I can come up with a solid plan and support, I am not going to venture into the full responsibility but I will at the very least be a support to anybody who would. 

am part of a garden group at our primary school but its run as a garden club - kids volunteer to participate - have quite sufficient volunteers - have four raised beds ( so far) with shade clothe covers grow beans tiny tomatoes lettuce radish carrots - have 4 work farms for the fruit break scraps , The garden developed out of the recycling club who started the worm farms ! the kids get to eat what they grow and take home the extras - they love it ! 

That sounds more like my kind of thinking. Although I admire those who do, I'm not sure I could commit to the teaching on a regular basis. I'd love to chat more at our next GV.

The kindergarten has a garden and that project is driven by the teacher there.

We had a space set aside at the Prep area for a garden, and planted it out, but could not sustain it as the teachers were not willing to be engaged...and had no green skills.

If, with all your horticultural enthusiasms, you're ambivalent, imagine what a teacher feels about 'a school garden' project?

Horticulture is not part of their Dip Ed.

The groundsman is underpaid and too busy..so the core driver has to lay with the parents and P&C.

We're lucky and have proven our worth in terms of school values and perspectives.

The niche that drove us was the utility of the space for the SEP kids. That was the hook -- the rest of the enterprise kinda partnered that. Prior to that the garden was neglected and in hiatus, after P&C enthusiasts set it up.

I didn't want to teach but I do. Indeed it is my hands-on creativity & knowledge that buoys up the improvised curriculum. Every week we come up with stuff the kids can do and relate to.

It is thrilling.200+ kids being shown how to grow veg.

But that doesn't change the many maintenance tasks a garden  demands. This time of year -- first term -- is a bad time to get volunteers to sign up for outdoor work; and a garden like this really does need twice/week maintenance -- if only if that means watering.

Of course if you have kids at the school and they are in the lower grades then you are connected already .. and will remain so for a few years.

So why not garden there too?

Compared to the tuckshop roster -- spare me all that frenzy & hard work! -- give me time in the dirt any day.

I also live around the corner from the school.

Dave i work at the school - no parents are involved - the garden is run by the garden club - students from all the grades at the school have a twice weekly lunch working club run mostly by the student leaders and they are just about fully responsible for the garden club - two staff facilitate the group- ( club supervision and there are many are part duties roster )

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