Early last spring, through a local educational grant, I helped students, teachers, parents and administrators establish a vegetable garden at our small grade school. Permanent above- and below-ground fencing surrounds our 25’ x 40’ garden to guard it from hungry critters.
We designed and installed an underground high-efficiency drip irrigation system to water our 9 rectangular wood-framed raised beds. Following garden construction, we all helped weed the garden beds, plant seeds, transplant seedlings, maintain the beds and harvest the veggies.
Our small gardening program provides benefits that reach well beyond the garden gate. In addition to enhancing the classroom curriculum, the program inspires personal and social responsibility. It nurtures community spirit, common purpose, and cultural appreciation by building bridges among students, school staff, and local organizations.
Kids learn from maintaining the garden throughout the year: weeding, thinning, fertilizing, mulching, composting, monitoring pests and diseases, and harvesting. Kids gain a sense of ownership and accomplishment and a willingness to try new foods. As well, they obtain life skills.
The kids experience a deeper understanding of natural systems and become better stewards of the Earth by designing, cultivating, and harvesting with their own hands. Our small garden helps teach an environmental ethic, helps demystify the concept of food production, and helps get kids really dirty.