When we dug our 11×17 garden in June 2011, we specifically chose a ground-level bed for better water retention in the dry summer months.
To date, we’ve set up a watering schedule for parent volunteers during July and August, which has worked well. We have a number of perennial herbs, which the kids love to smell and taste. The French Sorrel is a favourite!
Our focus so far has been on crops that mature in the spring, fall, and winter, so that they can better match up with the school year. We’ve planted winter crops such as leeks and winter sprouting broccoli, which have been successful, and allow students to see things growing throughout the year, and not just to come back to a magically lush garden each September.
The chief goal of our garden is to share the pleasures of being outdoors and growing & eating food with our students. Children love being outdoors, with their hands in the soil, looking at different kinds of bugs, and discovering that they can eat these growing things. When students are interested and motivated in the subject at hand, learning comes easy. We believe that the experience and skills that students gain from working in a garden stays with them, and causes them to respect their food and the Earth throughout their lives.
We find that students are willing to try just about anything that comes out of a garden. Children who would never eat green leaves, or a vegetable stir-fry, or leek-and-potato soup, are enthusiastic about trying them out in the classroom, when the foods came from “their” garden. We are also excited about getting immigrant families involved in the garden so that their elders can share knowledge and grow some of their traditional foods.