Up to this point, we had done all of the work on the garden outside of the school day, relying on volunteers. We had families and kids out there, but it was time to work on integration within the school day.
Now that we had beds ready and irrigation system in place, we called out to teachers to see who was interested in working with their classes in the garden. We ended up with a few brave teachers mostly from the lower grade levels (shout out to kindergarten teachers as all six of us wanted to participate) and divided up the beds like this.
I recommend taking small groups out a time if you can. I ended up taking out my entire class. The kids had fun for sure and the experience was important for them regardless, but with small groups it is less hectic and you can get more meaningful learning from the experience, integrate more mindful practices. Some schools do a planting day, when they get all the kids out at the same time to get things in the ground which is nice because it supports a school culture of gardening. If you invite parents to this experience, you would have enough help to make it work.
We had started this project in January and so were rushing to get a spring planting season in. It was important to us to have a few harvests and experiences with our new garden before our school was rebuilt. I think we also wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it. Spring plantings can be difficult because it is hard to get a harvest and close down the gardens with the kids before the school year comes to a close. You probably don’t want to start your spring planting until there is no longer a threat of frost. Even here in the hot Arizona desert, we had nights of frost through February. Ideally, I would like to start breaking down the garden by April, composting dead plants and sending home anything viable, then tilling and covering the plots with cardboard for the summer. I talk more about planting seasons and schedules in a later post.
For teacher appreciation I asked for seedlings and seeds to plant in our new garden. My amazing and generous parents came through. Home Depot also gave us over $100 in donations. Thank you Home Depot! We had enough to plant with all of the grade levels and we had many donation of seedlings, which was important because it would have taken too long to start everything from seed. Of course, we could have tried sprouting from seed in the classroom starting way back in January, but we didn’t. Next year.
Once things were planted, I felt like we could finally take a deep breath.
We had built the garden, trained the staff and invited teachers to participate with their classes, and got things in the ground. My next challenge was to figure out how to get my own students out to the gardens regularly and to encourage other teachers to get their students out to the garden as well.
More to come next week!
To read my previous posts about starting our school garden click on the image below.