Like gardening in general, school gardening has become hugely popular during the pandemic, with families and teachers saying its hands-on lessons can be applied to many subjects.
Finding the expertise, labor and funding to keep a school garden going can be tough. But some experts and teachers are finding creative ways to make it work.
“Gardens are a great way to get kids outside with a purpose. With gardens, kids get to see a beginning, a middle and an end to their project, with tangible results,” says Susan Hobart, a retired elementary school teacher at Lake View Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin, who now oversees the school’s large garden with 12 raised beds.
“The gardens relax the kids and give them a whole different perspective they wouldn’t have just sitting at desk,” she says.
Each spring, the school’s program gets plant seedlings grown through a training program at a nearby state prison. A church group comes during spring break to prepare the garden for the kids’ return, and over the summer, an AmeriCorps volunteer takes care of the garden.
“If we had to buy the seedlings, they’d cost $3 each and we could never afford that,” Hobart says.
“If you take a look at your relationships and the community around you and then all the wider networks out there, there are plenty of creative ways to find help.”