Starting a School Garden: Nourishing Our Children’s Curiosity
Planning is an essential first step toward developing a school garden program. Taking time to think through a project first is vital to the sustainability and long-term goals of the program. Site location, planning for usage, staff training, custodial concerns, and garden maintenance for all seasons must be considered. The following sites will help in addressing these concerns.
TIP: Form a School Garden Committee – Creating a School Garden Committee to help vision and network with faculty and community is essential for long-term success. Creating partnerships with the community will also help the garden become sustainable. Committees can be made up of parents, interested faculty or administration, and community members. The committee can meet regularly as the vision and planning for the future garden is forming and later for maintaining a vibrant program.
A free, 51-page downloadable guide designed and published by the Center for Ecoliteracy in collaboration with Life Lab Science Program, a national leader in garden-based education. The Getting Started guide outlines all of the key steps toward creating a sustainable school garden program.
Benefits of School Gardening
Five key benefits of school learning garden programs from the Tampa Bay School Gardening Network
Making the Case for School Gardens
Statistics, research, and impacts of school learning garden programs by REAL School Gardens
Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University
This site offers a six-step path to creating a school garden. Step One – Form a Garden Committee offers a short explanation of the roles a garden committee plays in starting and maintaining a successful school garden program.
National Gardening Association
Includes information on forming a garden committee.
This site includes a complete list of steps to building a youth garden including gathering support, design, sustaining, and funding.
School Garden Wizard
This site offers a series of free, downloadable guides: Making the Case, Plan for Success, Create the Garden, Learn in the Garden (curriculum) and Keep it Growing.
School Garden Start-up Guide: Easy Steps to Building a Sustainable School Garden Program
Common Ground Garden Program, University of California Cooperative Extension
Sample Student Safety Pledge & Liability Waiver (Word | PDF)
This sample form is to be used as a guideline only. Please make sure any waiver form you develop is approved by your school administration.
Wellness Committees and Policies
TIP: Create a Wellness Committee or Wellness Policy – Another way to provide vision and clarity to your school garden is to write a School Wellness Policy that includes the vision for the garden space and its use. The following resources are meant to give direction to those decision-making processes. A few schools on Hawai’i Island have integrated their school garden into their Wellness Policy for nutritional education and physical activity goals.
Wellness Policy Development Toolkit
Office of Hawai‘i Child Nutrition Programs, Team Nutrition, Hawai‘i State Department of Education
Wellness Policy Implementation Checklist
The Hawai‘i Department of Health has created a Wellness Guidelines Checklist to guide the formation of school wellness committees. Working through the Checklist will take time, but will bring necessary capacity to your committee; engage community stakeholders; help pinpoint nutrition, physical activity, and wellness actions for your school; and give a positive direction to your school wellness committee.
Model Wellness Policy Guide
Center For Ecoliteracy
The School Health Index (SHI): Self-Assessment & Planning Guide 2014
The School Health Index (SHI): Self-Assessment & Planning Guide is an online self-assessment and planning tool that school wellness committees can use to help establish their school focus and goals for their economic and development plan. It’s easy to use and completely confidential.