school garden

School Garden 101

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 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. 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. (Note: This organization is now called OutTeach, and I believe they are now headquartered in DC. They have expanded to more states…). 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:

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.

Note: This is an updated blog post series. However, all links have been checked or changed as needed. The next post in this series can be found here.

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