We made the building of the raised beds a fun family day. Some parents worked with the power tools needed to cut the wood, some parents worked in the garden and did general weeding and mulch-laying while other parents played in the adjacent park with the kids. Then we all had a pizza lunch together and played in the garden when everything was cleaned up.
What challenges did or does your project face?
We didn't get fully funded so we weren't able to pay for the whole project as originally described.
Also, we were building the raised beds on the edge of a slope to prevent our younger children from falling down it. We have to shore up the slope a little better or the raised beds will slip down it in the first rain.
How are you working to overcome them?
We used gardening funds from our fruit stand (explained more below) to help pay for the materials such as hardware cloth and steel fence post. Also, we built less raised beds, but then built trellises (from old bookshelves that were free on craigslist) to put in between the veggie beds so that kids won't be able to get down the slope in the spaces in between.
As far as the slope, we are going to use leftover dirt (free) from another classroom project to shore up the hillside. We will also use all the rocks laying around our garden (there are a lot and also free) to build up a rock wall and prevent erosion.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
This isn't an idea specifically from this project, but, in general, we use a fruit stand to raise funds for our garden (see attached picture). It is a wooden, old fashioned looking stand that is at the front of the school. People donate their extra produce from their own yard and other people pay for it. For example, my parents have a pink grapefruit tree that probably produces close to 400 grapefruits a year. They can't possibly eat that many (even though they are delicious), so they donate to the school fruit stand. We make about $200-300 a year that we use for our school garden, and best of all, people don't have to watch an abundance of fruit rot on their trees.