Introducing children to the concept of where food comes from is a great idea and helps encourage children to eat healthily by growing their own vegetables.
As a School or PTA you could organise a Gardening Club working together to produce a vegetable plot. PTA members, parents and grandparents could volunteer to come in and work with the children in small groups. Just think of all the knowledge that is out there just waiting to be tapped! You could ask parents for donations of seeds and seedlings, garden tools, netting, bamboo canes, watering cans or even a wheelbarrow!
A school garden encourages children to work together, not only through gardening tasks like planting, weeding and watering, but also through observation and problem solving techniques. Working with seeds and plants helps children to understand what happens every time a seed is sown and a plant is growing.
Children will learn all about the weather, plants, insects and nutrition. School gardens can help interest children in maths through gardening projects that cover counting patterns or collecting data. Children can be taught about how people used to very much depend on and live off the land. Vocabulary and reading can also be improved and garden projects can lead to interesting written projects.
Inter-generational links can be forged if Grandparents are encouraged to come in and help the children with the plot. Children will benefit from working outdoors, getting regular exercise and plenty of fresh air.
Many salad leaves and vegetables can be harvested before the end of the summer term, Use the vegetables grown to show the children how the prepare and cook them , many could even be cooked as part of a school lunch! Other vegetables will be ready when school opens again in September.
You will need some willing volunteers to pop in over the summer to keep the plot watered and weed-free. A number of vegetables need continuous picking such as peas, beans and tomatoes to keep them producing...a small perk for the volunteers! Alternatively, there are companies who provide special plants that are easy to grow and can be harvested within term time.
With fundraising in mind, the children and the PTA could also sell produce to parents and teachers at Sports Day, after school or at the Summer Fair. A host of vegetables will also be ready for the Harvest Festival, offering an opportunity to show parents how hard the children have worked and allowing parents to buy the vegetables and see how good they taste!
With just a little research you could create a thriving vegetable patch.
Ask a local stable if you can collect well-rotted horse manure and find a plot of school land that gets at least 6 hours of sun. You may even find some willing parents to come in a build raised beds! Don’t forget to visit your local garden centre and see if they can help your school.
A project like this will benefit not only the children who will be working together, but also create a good community spirit within the school. Good Luck!