Monday, April 30, 2012

School Garden

The only way is up! We've got a lot of work to do.
Starting a School Garden has been a real passion of mine. I grew up in a country school that had it's own vegetable plot that not only taught me about growing other types of food that I had never tried before, but also gave me a safe sanctuary to walk through if I was feeling lonely.

There is something so instinctual about gardening, that when you try it for the first time you wonder why you hadn't started sooner.

It's therapeutic, it's achievable with amazing outcomes, it's educational, and it's so incredibly HEALTHY!

This term, I am so excited as I have been asked to become their Volunteer Parent Teacher for Gardening at my children's primary school here in Adelaide. Such a great educational role.

Volunteer Parent Teachers need to be on the same page as the class teacher, to explain the basics of how plant life works, and how to maintain it to a harvest. Sometimes the class teacher will have ideas that do not fit the season, so that is where a parent with passion and experience can be such a great asset to the lesson.

I've started to carry a note book with me where ever I go, so I can plot, plan and doodle my gardening ideas for the children for the weeks ahead.

Things to keep in mind when planning a School Vegetable Garden:

  • School Gardens can be very limited in space due to the division of plots for each grade. Know your plot size.
  • Soil type - will it need compost and manure to be added before planting?
  • Planting season restrictions.
  • Rainy Day contingency plans.
  • Has anyone donated plants? Check with the class teacher every week.
  • Who/when will the garden be watered and fertilized?
  • How do we attract bees for pollination?
  • Could we have a little extra room for a special project such as a Bean Teepee?
  • How fast/slow does each crop grow? Will it be ready before end-of-term?
  • Will anyone eat it? Too hot, spicy or bland?
  • Will the plants be eaten by caterpillars?
  • What to do with the harvest? Sell, giveaway or have a class cooking lesson?
  • Can we get local businesses to donate necessary gardening items? Tanks, fencing, tools?

Beginning Lessons

What is a seed?
Where does the seed get it's energy from?
What does a plant need to keep growing?
Sun, water, food (fertiliser).
ACTIVITY: Grow seeds in damp cotton wool or tissues in class room.

Let's get dirty...
Tools, gloves, watering cans.
ACTIVITY: Planting in the garden: Seeds/Seedlings

Why does a garden need bees?
What attracts bees to a garden?
ACTIVITY: Plant bee attracting flowers.
Lavender, marigolds, basil, rosemary and lemon balm.

Rainy Day Plans

  • What can be grown indoors?
  • What can be grown in the dark? Alfalfa Sprouts & Mushrooms
  • Plant propagation
  • Scrapbook ideas
  • Garden plan drawings
  • Get pictures from magazines and internet
  • Art
  • SmartBoard Gardening Websites for kids

There are so many more ideas to come. I will hopefully be able to update lessons plans and how the children have reacted to each lesson.

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