What Makes a School Garden Successful?
...it's the PEOPLE!
School gardens come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Their outdoor educational opportunities can be limitless. With childhood obesity more than doubling in children and tripling in adolescents, school gardens can help address positive environmental lifestyle changes, increase physical activity, and help develop good citizenship in our youth and their families.
Kids Growing Strong has written previously about how to plan a school garden, what is required structurally, irrigation choices, curricular focus, and about sustainability. As a school garden advisor with multiple school garden implementations under my belt over the past few years at both elementary and middle school levels, I continue to self-assess, increasing the value of the advisory role with real world “school garden” observations. Realizing gardening is a huge, constantly changing experiment; sometimes we fail, sometimes we succeed. In the end, we assess, learn, adapt, and try again.
First hand experience suggests that what truly makes school gardens successful aren’t the planter boxes, sprinklers, or even the plants chosen. Though all those are important factors in successful gardening, it’s the PEOPLE who make school gardens successful. Gardens that were built by the community they serve (the students), led by teachers with strong parent groups, have greater success, satisfaction, and sustainability.