How to Start a School Garden – Help Kids Grow Healthy Food!

How to Start a School Garden – Help Kids Grow Healthy Food!

[Music] School gardens help kids understand
where food comes from, and which foods promote health. As well as being a fun co-operative project, a school garden gives children a great sense of achievement when the crops are ready for harvest, and links to many curriculum subjects. More and more parents want their children to grow up appreciating organic fresh food, and research confirms that kids that
grow vegetables, eat vegetables. Whether you’re a teacher in a school that is considering a garden, a parent helper, or a volunteer, this video will give you some practical ideas to plan for success. You can create a growing area in even the
smallest of spaces, and you don’t need lots of expensive
equipment to get going. In fact, using recycled materials and making do with what is to hand is a great way for kids to be creative and to learn about the environment – so start small and plan to expand. Raised beds are the easiest way to start. Find a sunny spot somewhere that will be
easily seen, as this will generate interest amongst
children and parents. If siting the garden near a playground be sure to include fencing to protect
the plants from stray balls Shallow raised beds can be placed
directly onto grass, or deeper ones can be placed on concrete or paved surfaces. Build them no more than 3 or 4
feet wide so that children can reach into the bed easily without stepping on the growing area, which compresses the soil and limits plant growth. Fill the raised beds with good quality compost to give your plants the best possible start, and you’re ready to start planting. Some schools create square foot beds to grow a lot of different crops in a small space. Each 1 foot square has a different
vegetable sown into it. In the Garden Planner, you can switch to the Square Foot Gardening mode by clicking the SFG button. You can then easily arrange 1 foot
squares of plants on your plan. Each square displays the number of plants at
the top left – between 1 and 16 plants per square. Alternatively, traditional planting layouts can be used, which is particularly
good for larger plants and rows. Make sure that the colored areas around
the plants don’t overlap to ensure that they have enough room to grow well. Select easy-to-grow crops that require minimal maintenance to give you the best chances of success. To do this, use the Garden Planner filter
feature to show those plants which are easy to grow. These will be displayed in
the plant selection bar. You can also select to only see plants that can be harvested during certain months of the year in
your area – particularly useful if you want to avoid planting crops that mature during the school holidays. Get started with some of these easy-to-grow plants: Early potatoes, which can be started off
in the classroom, grow quickly once planted out, and are
great to dig up just before the summer break. Peas will scramble up wigwams made
out of recycled materials or garden canes and are delicious eaten straight from
the pod. Climbing beans can also be grown in this way. Rainbow chard, which grows in several
bright colors and will survive all kinds of weather. Salad leaves, such as cut-and-come-again lettuces are
very easy to grow and can be harvested over several weeks. Strawberries are enjoyed by children of
all ages and it’s simple to create a cascade of
pots which will then produce baby runner plants later in the summer Perennial herbs like rosemary, lavender, oregano and thyme attract bees and
butterflies, offer strong scents to explore and can be harvested and turned into take-homes in art or design classes, such as scented cards or lavender bags. They’re easy to take care of and will
grow year after year with minimal care Sunflowers, which are easy to grow as
class competitions. After flowering, the seeds can be used to
attract birds to the garden during the winter. Start them in pots on a windowsill
before planting them out a few weeks later when the weather warms up. For the more adventurous class, why not create
a pizza garden – growing all the ingredients for pizza
sauce. Then invite a local chef to teach children how to make their own pizza or pasta dishes. And, if you have a lot to space or can
involve parents to help grow at home, seeing who can grow the biggest pumpkin
is an excellent activity leading up to pumpkin carving competitions at Halloween. Some plants will need watering
and caring for during school holidays, so it’s a good idea to have volunteers
on hand who can do this, or choose crops with low watering needs. Once you’ve got to grips with the basics, and have volunteers to help, consider
adding these extra features to provide year-round interest in your school
garden: A composter will provide you with a
rich source of compost which you can put back into your raised beds and, with care, will allow you to reduce
the amount of waste. Kids can be encouraged to eat fruit so that the skins and peel can be added to the compost heap (but make sure it’s covered to prevent wasps from
from swarming) and you can even add tea bags and other suitable kitchen waste. For older children, studying the life
cycle of plants and animals links well to composting. Bug hotels can be made and hung up to
encourage insects to the garden, and you can create mini-beast areas by
leaving cut logs piled together, provided termites aren’t an issue in
your area. A pond can make an excellent source for
studying food chains, and with luck frogs or toads may take up
residence, which eat garden pests such as slugs. Just make sure the pond has a safety
grid fitted, or is fenced off to prevent accidents. With a little planning, a garden can
become the focus of many engaging school projects and can lay the foundations of healthy
eating for life. Check out these resources for further
ideas! [Music]


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