Sustaining Your School Garden – Taken from The Life Lab Garden Times, Spring 2002
Most people connected to schools realize that change is a given. Administrators, staff, teachers, parents and students eventually move on. This can be a challenge for maintaining and sustaining a school garden project over time, particularly if the garden is the special project of just a few people. At Life Lab, we have worked with many schools who have made the Life Lab garden key part of the school over many years, and others where the gardens have come and gone. Generally, gardens that are successful involve the entire school community. Here are some tips to keep your garden program thriving for the long haul.
Form a steering committee for the garden program. This committee will help make short- and long-range plans for the garden, to ensure that it is properly funded, maintained and used by the school community. The steering committee should be made up of teachers, parents, administrators, students and staff. Getting the school custodian to join is a big plus. The steering committee should hold regular meetings throughout the year.
Develop a vision for your school garden. What ultimately do you want it to be? What is its purpose? How will it connect to curriculum? How will it be used daily by students and staff? What will it look like in 3-5 years? How will you get there? Share this vision with the school community and begin to plan out the steps for achieving it.
Encourage a team of parents to participate as volunteers. Recruit parents of younger children who will stay in the school for several years. Volunteers can help teachers gather materials and teach garden lessons in small groups. They can also assist with general garden maintenance, fundraising and ordering supplies. For example, as the weather starts to turn poor and we head into fall, someone will likely need to rake or blow (you can get inspiration for leafblowers at thebestleafblowers.com) the leaves that start to cover the garden. This is important to ensure that any plants or grass underneath the leaves get as much sunlight as possible through the colder months.
Inform the school community about the value of the garden. Hold celebrations, volunteer recognition parties and other events in the garden frequently. This gives the teachers a valuable opportunity to showcase student work inspired by the living laboratory of the school garden. Be sure to invite school board members and local politicians.
View resources for starting a school garden.
Oh yeah and money can’t hurt either. View the Fund tab at www.csgn.org for funding ideas.