At our middle school: new raised bed gardens area with vegetables and creation of an afterschool Garden Club, at our elementary schools: continuing closer connections in the garden to science curriculum resulting in more classroom garden visits and more teachers taking classes out on their own for lessons in the garden
What challenges did or does your project face?
We need more gardeners among our teachers and better ways to support the gardens at each school, and of course a commitment of funds for the garden infrastructure would be good too
How are you working to overcome them?
We’re participating in the elementary school renovations planning that’s happening now in our district, aiming to promote the creation of outdoor learning spaces and the continuing availability of garden resources as the renovations proceed, with the goal of improved outdoor learning spaces and gardens once renovations are complete. We’re also hoping to create a stipended “garden coach” type position at all 3 elementary schools with a summer component. We also have a district "Garden Advisory Group" of parents, teachers and administrators that helps us to keep garden programs moving forward over time. We’ve met 5 times over 3 years so far
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Things we are learning about weaving gardens into the schools are too numerous to count. As we are beginning our 4th season with a district garden coordinator that works mostly with the elementary schools, we are able to make connections for outdoor learning and curriculum connections as we go, learning from teaching and then documenting best practices and lessons. The most important lesson here is that it takes many years to build a garden based program and space. District support is key, although grant funding helps us get this off the ground. The proof is in the learning for our students and their interest that can travel with them through the system if they choose.