When the kids are away, the garden weeds will splay!
One of the biggest issues of maintaining a school garden is that it often goes untended during the summer, wasting the great efforts of spring and becoming a mess for fall growing.
Here are four ways to keep your school garden growing. For all of these it’s important to work closely with school administration and custodians for access to the campus, garden and resources like water.
School Garden Drop-In Hours
Work with your school to set weekly hours when volunteers can drop in and tend to the garden. These hours can be supervised or unsupervised. Set up and use an online shared calendar (like Google calendar) to keep track of garden volunteers to ensure the garden is covered all summer long. Those who get their hands dirty also enjoy the harvest!
Work with your school to open the garden to all neighbors! One family a week can sign up to “adopt a bed” covering the whole summer time-frame. The family agrees to visit, water,weed and harvest the garden every day for one week. This small time frame isn’t too much of a commitment, plus they get to eat and enjoy that week’s crops!
Involving the community also plants the seeds of healthy eating and connection to food and nature on a larger scale and fosters support foredible education.
Kids’ Summer Program
There’s no better resource than the kids themselves! Summer programs reinforce the skills and garden culture kids have learned throughout the school year. And with more time than a 40-minute class session to explore, students can have much more freedom and dig deeper into what’s actually happening in the garden. Consider planning a program like this starting early in the new year, as participation in this program will require a manager and many volunteers.
Partner With Other Organizations
If a summer program at your school isn’t possible, there are probably community partners nearby who might be eager for a volunteer opportunity. Many organizations are happy to organize a few likeminded volunteers a day to weed, water and enjoy the harvest of their community’s school garden. Local summer school classes, camps, community based organizations, neighborhood groups or gardening clubs might also be eager to take on this small outdoor project!
Whole Kids Foundation® opens in a new tab is dedicated to getting kids to eat more veggies – and enjoy it! Every fall they open their School Garden Grant opens in a new tab window to encourage schools to get growing and root kids to real food. Get inspired by a few of the garden grant recipients by reading about their school garden success stories opens in a new tab.
Have you ever tended a school or community garden? What learnings or tips do you have? Please share them in the comments below.