Sustaining School Food Gardens
Successful school food gardens require ongoing collaboration and a thoughtful approach to planning. They are “larger than one person’s passion” and thrive when people come together to plan for the long-term, build and sustain resources, and engage the wider community for support. School food gardens take time to build and require a range of resources including money, people, knowledge, and skills.
School food gardens are ideal environments to promote leadership development for students. Fostering leadership in the garden also promotes peer-to-peer learning and facilitates mentorship opportunities.
• School food gardens establish a leadership team which includes representation from a diverse group of students, parents, school staff, and community members.
• School food gardens pursue opportunities to orchestrate team-work, intergenerational learning, cross-age buddies partnerships and cross-cultural learning.
Manage and Plan Resources:
School food garden teams identify early on the financial and human resources required to run a successful school food garden and work to develop a plan to secure them.
• School food garden programs have a system in place to ensure accountabilities for reporting are done in a timely manner.
• School food gardens seek diverse funding partners to ensure financial sustainability.
• Successful programs build leadership, identify clear roles and accountabilities, and promote growth and learning among all
Plan for the Future:
Educators, students/parents and volunteers ebb and flow through the school system. It’s critical to plan for long-term success by embedding school food garden programs into the school culture. Every school food gardens needs a succession plan, as well as ongoing training opportunities for participants.
• Keep records and orientation processes for new members to the garden team.
• Continually develop new school food garden champions, internal and external to the school.
• Develop maintenance and curriculum plans that can be passed on.
• Educators, students, parents, and other volunteers who work within the school food garden program participate in training and professional development opportunities.
Plan for the Future: Have students envision the school food garden 5 years in the future. Have conversations about what might still be growing in the garden. Are there seeds that can be planted today to ensure success in 5 years? What seeds can be saved from year to year and how do they need to be cared for? What perennial vegetables or fruit bushes can be established? Explore the science behind annual and perennial plants and seed saving. Report on the 5 year garden vision with garden leadership to help inform plans for continued growth and spark ideas.
Story from the Field: Putting Down Roots
The school garden is an important part of the school and community. The garden is integrated into school curriculum for grades primary to 4, with each grade having their own garden bed, with painted signs. Older grades are involved through the “Me to We Club”. During the summer, the gardens are incorporated into the Resource Centre summer day camp programming, and the community Bulk Buying Club uses the produce in bi-weekly food boxes. In the Fall, the produce goes to the school cafeteria, and extra produce goes home with students or is used in a variety of community programs. For our school garden, we use funding from a variety of sources. Having a few funding sources helps ensure the sustainability of the program. In-kind donations from the community each year, including straw for mulch, and well-composted manure, helps to keep costs down.- Community Garden Leader
Resources for Sustaining School Food Gardens