School gardens leaders require resources
School gardens leaders require resources to get started and to enhance a school garden.
Whether your school is just getting started planning your school garden or have had a school garden many years there is always a need for resources. Taking the time to navigate your way about the internet or send for seed catalogs can be frustrating and time consuming. In a previous article, “School garden programs and starting a school garden takes planning,” five steps for a successful school garden program are outlined. Having a school garden is one step to becoming a designated Michigan’s Green School.
Step one was to form a committee. Committees are your number one resource. The collective knowledge and people power can really make the task of gathering additional resources that much easier through the division of tasks. Below is a topic list of the kinds of resources that might be important to your school garden plan. Your first place for general gardening information would be your county Michigan State University Extension office, the MSU Extension website and the MSU Extension Gardening in Michigan website.
One of the best ways to get started is to look at what other schools have done. Talk to the garden leaders at schools near you that have gardens or join an organization with the same or similar goals. This website is an organization with a single goal: Edible School yards. A good general getting started guide is available from UC Davis Extension called Children’s Gardens: A Resource Guide for Teachers, Parents and Volunteers. A more modern website is School Resource Guidebook at the Garden Project of Southwest Colorado.
- Grants and funding: where to get funding and applying for it is another area that requires time. Most of these sources are not overly heavy on requirements but they all require applying or writing up a request. A couple of generic clearing houses that list multiple grant offerings for school garden related projects that may prove useful are Garden ABCs, and K-12 School Grants.
- State standards and curriculum: all gardens offer outdoor classroom opportunities – Education Outside offers more information; in Michigan, this information is found in the state nutrition toolkit.
Gardens don’t have to be expensive. With some ingenuity, imagination, a bit of elbow grease and determination, you can have very productive and rewarding gardening experiences. For more gardening information visit the Gardening in Michigan website at Michigan State University Extension.