Gardens group can come in many forms, but one of the most successful models we’ve seen is a application-based student garden club. At La Cima Charter School in Brooklyn, the Principal announces at the start of the schoolyard that she will be overseeing a special garden club, and students then have a few weeks to submit an essay to the principal explaining why they’d like to be part of the club. The students in the club decided to name it “The Grow Getters”. Here are some tips and tricks to consider when starting your own garden club.
- Make a To-Do list at the start – Have the students decide what activities will be covered throughout the year. That way, you’ll have something to guide your next step along the way and the kids get practice in planning. Here are the Grow Getters making their Spring To-Do list.
- Make it a Priviledge – Garden clubs should be inclusive and there can absolutely be opportunities for whole classes to get outside to drum up interest in the garden club, but having some sort of selection process helps kids feel agency, ownership, and pride in their garden club role. An essay or short questionnaire can make kids take their responsbilities in the garden seriously.
- Embrace Mistakes – even flowers from cabbage that has gone bitter after “bolting” can be a chance to observe the pollinators they attract! When weeds take over a section or your garden, it’s the perfect time to observe, document, and learn which weeds you have to battle. Take photos or make drawing for a site specific weeding guide.
- Supplies – Each Grow Getter gets their own set of gloves, an apron, and a trowel. Having a uniform can help students feel like their part of a special gloves. Pockets in the aprons are also a handy place to keep gardening gloves. We recommend washing your garden gloves weekly or more, depending on the activites undertaken. Supplies for a gardening grant is a perfect use for our playgrounds mini-grant.
- Plan for the Season – Gardening activities can continue all winter. After raking leaves back in the garden and planting bulbs in the winter, students can use the winter to keep a nature journal and observe the winter birds eating the last garden berries. When snowfall comes, student can make nature based snow sculptures and practice igloo building on the Green Infrastructure turf field.
- Document your garden story– Be sure to take lots of pictures to document your successes for teachers and parents, and to drum up more interest from the school in gardening. Pictures can also be great for tracking recurring problems along the way. Share your pics with us so other schools can also learn from your group!