Frequently Asked Questions - School Gardens

School Garden Frequently Asked Questions

Why School Gardens?

  • Enriching classroom-based learning across academic curriculum, making many abstract concepts more concrete
  • Building community within the school and with the surrounding community
  • Supporting healthy eating habits through experiential,  seed-to-table connection with healthy food
  • Promoting environmental stewardship, and providing affordable, accessible outdoor education

Why garden with kids?

  • Address multiple learn styles
  • Provide opportunities for interdisciplinary lessons
  • Promote good nutrition and exercise
  • Teach patience and responsibility
  • Build classroom relationships, improve teamwork, and strengthen school spirit

How do I start a School Garden Program?

Starting a School Garden Program may seem overwhelming; however, involving parents, neighbors, local nurseries or garden supply stores are a great place to start. It is important to use the resources within your community as community involvement is one of the strongest driving forces behind a successful school garden. In addition, getting support from your school administration from the start of the program is very important. Remember, a school-wide garden program can be very difficult without a system for organizing and operating it. Having a system for organizing it is as important as the soil, water and sunshine will be to your plants. Life Lab has an exhaustive website to help plan, plant, harvest, and create curriculum for school gardens.

What is a garden coordinator?

The "garden coordinator" or "garden leader" may be a school principal, an experienced teacher or an experienced gardener from the community. She or he should be backed by a small team who between them have commitment, interest, experience, authority and contacts: for example, the head teacher, some parents or community members, a few students, a school inspector, a health worker, the school caretaker. Later a wider network of helpers and supporters can be built up. The garden leader should have a colleague who can act as a deputy when necessary. It is also a good idea to establish an executive team of senior students who are able to carry on without much supervision

Can school garden produce be used in school meals?

School garden programs aim to provide students the experience of growing their own food. There has been limited progress in getting garden grown produce into school cafeterias to be a part of the lunch program. The major hurdles that commonly exist to prevent the flow of garden produce to school cafeterias include the lack of safe food handling protocols, the lack of proper facilities to clean the produce, and the inability to grow enough produce to even supply a day's worth for a school kitchen. Although these challenges exist they are not impassible. Building partnerships with health departments and food service directors builds the foundation to assure quality food safety and quantity plans. Slow Food Denver Seed-to-Table School Garden Alliance has created the guide for Garden to Cafeteria Program to outline ways to overcome these barriers.