Do you have what it takes to garden?*

Goal:Determine whether the class has the organizational resources to grow a garden and a space suitable for one.

Objectives: Students will…

  • Evaluate locations on the school grounds for suitability for a garden
  • Assess sun conditions, current use and slope of a site
  • Measure potential garden site
  • Make scale drawing of garden site, marking any permanent features
  • Brainstorm organizational needs of a garden and assess ability to follow through with maintenance

Materials: graph paper and pencils, clipboards, rulers, measuring tapes, compass

Advance Preparation: talk to your school administrator and facilities manager about your desire to plan a vegetable garden, get a sense from them about any limitations you might face for in-ground or container gardens

*Adapted from copyrighted material by The Food Project. Used with permission.

Time Estimate: 1 class
3 min introduce food garden
15 min discussion
25 min location scouting and scale drawing
5 min pack up and back in

Instructional Plan

You’ve already looked at the high environmental costs of the conventional food system. Introduce to students the idea that anyone can grow food, no matter where they live. One option for a sustainability action project is to grow food at school with the goal of learning more about the process and equipping students and their families with the knowledge and skills to grow their own food.

Do we have what it takes?

Growing food can be a big undertaking: it involves watering, weeding, planting, harvesting. Often these activities will have to happen during school breaks or during times other than during class. Ask students what resources they or their families can bring to the garden. Does anyone have a gardener in the family? Would you be willing to volunteer in the summer? Does anyone have the organizational skills to manage a volunteer schedule of jobs that need to happen and when they will get done? Discuss as a big group.

Finding a Location

Go outside to scout out potential locations for the garden (use the input you got from your administrators as a guide). Bring the materials listed.  You are looking for areas that will be in full sun from March through October. Ideally this would be a piece of land that has no large trees or buildings on the south side of it. If you are looking at doing a container garden, you could look along south facing walls or a roof (if one is safely accessible for students). Have students use compass to determine cardinal points.

The site does not need to be flat, but that certainly makes things easier. Where is the closest source of water for each site?

After you have toured various sites, have students weigh in on which they think would be best suited. Measure out the general dimensions of the space and have each student make a scale drawing. They should draw in any permanent features (also to scale) within or around the garden space and N, S, E, W.

Rotate around, making sure students are using the scale appropriately and clearly labeling diagrams.

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