School Garden 101

So… this article was intended to be published last week. What happened? Rock-n-Roll is what happened. That’s right. Rock-n-Roll.

Let me explain.

I’m a huge classic rock fan, and one of my all time favs is (drum roll please)… Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I LOVE them! I first saw them at the El Paso County Colosseum way back in the day. (Did you know that back then, you could see a show for ten bucks?! And a t-shirt was another ten. Seriously! I’m not even going to tell you how much blankety-blankin’ money I spent on these tickets. Let’s just say that I had to seek advice from another serious rock-n-roll lover to calm my jittery nerves.)

But, I’m digressing from my story. So, last Saturday I went to the concert with my son. (He was my date, and this was his first concert!!) We drove to Dallas, ate dinner, saw the show, and then drove home. We got in at about two in the morning, and it took me an entire week to recover! I was sooo tired. The next day I was a zombie, and I was in bed by nine o’clock for the rest of the week… no blogging for me. #IthinkImgettingold

Image result for rock n roll meme
I hope someone out there gets this.

But, I’m back and I’m ready to rumble.

So, you’ve made the decision to start a school garden, and you need to know what’s next. Let me start with a few suggestions. Before you do anything, you need to know the purpose of your garden (we’ll get into kinds of gardens in a later post), and who the garden will serve. In other words, is this going to be a school-wide effort with commitment from your staff, or is this going to be a one or two teacher project?If the latter is the case, keep it small. Believe me you don’t want to receive funding and install a large garden, and then nobody uses it.

Wait, did she say funding?

Why yes, she did.

Once you decide to install a garden you have to have the funds to do it. I know that in my district, every purchase has to be approved and made through district approved vendors. My district is also the second largest in the state, so you can just imagine the process. It’s a huge pain in the rear end if you ask me. (I only mention this because you might actually work in a district or at a school that has discretionary funds available for such activities. I’ve heard those do exist…)

If you are planning something very small, you may be able to just bring some tools from home, and with the help a group of students and parents dig up a small bed for planting. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy.

But, if you want something a bit more extravagant, I suggest applying for grants. Yes, grants require you to jump through a few hoops, but in the long run it’s worth it. After all, grants are often sizable amounts of money.

My school’s garden grant was provided through Real School Gardens. They started in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, and have now expanded to include Washington D.C. If you are located in either of these areas, I highly recommend checking these guys out. Here are a few pictures from my school’s garden.

     

We have six raised beds, a butterfly garden, several fruit trees, a beautiful rose bush, a tool shed, a composting area, a shade arbor, and a two hundred gallon rain barrel. It seems like a lot, and it is. But… I promise you that it is very do-able. (I didn’t show the pictures of the raised beds because when I took them they desperately needed weeding.)

Here are a few websites to check out for grants:

Kidsgardening.org

Whole Kids Foundation

Garden ABC’s

Collective School Garden Network (California and Arizona, but if you scroll down there is a very good list of other grants geared towards outdoor learning and gardens)

A simple Google search for “school garden grants” yielded a sizable list. You may also be able to receive grants through local community organizations.

Now that you have this information, give your garden ideas some serious thought. Gather the information for the grants you may want to apply for, but don’t apply yet. Next week I’m going to get a little more into the nitty-gritty about hashing out the details of organizing and planning for building your garden.

Until then… y’all have a great week!

-karen

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