“Granny is the earth’s best friend.” Jamie, 3rd grade
Garden time is class time. Many of the rules are the same as classroom rules: no running, take care of supplies, use inside voices since many garden areas are near classroom windows.
Ears are one of the most important tools in the garden. Remind students to listen for instructions and ask questions if they don’t understand.
Walk only on wood chip paths, grass, or blacktop, and never in a garden bed. Students and adults often assume that it is okay to walk in a garden where there are no plants. We never walk in a garden, even when it does not contain plants, because it compacts the soil. If an area is not covered with wood chip mulch, grass, or blacktop, it should be considered a garden.
Don’t stand or sit on the raised bed framing. Students are often tempted to stand or sit on the boards that form the raised beds of the class gardens, but this can damage the framing.
Handle tools safely! Instruct students that trowels and shovels are carried with the sharp parts and blades pointed down. Tools are never to be swung or carried on a student’s shoulder. When not in use, shovels and trowels are inserted into the soil with the handles standing vertically, so no accidents are caused by stepping on or tripping over the tools. Then they are returned to the tool’s storage container.
The hand lenses in the barn are fun to use in the gardens or on the trail to take a closer look at organisms. A lens should hang from its lanyard around a student’s neck. Instruct students to keep the hand lens around their neck until the lenses are gathered at the end of the class. To avoid injury to others or loss of the lens, the lenses should not be swung or carried by hand. Students are not to use the lenses to try to burn plant material or organisms.
Pick flowers only if the garden educator says it’s OK. You may decide to pick flowers at the end of a class. Teachers are also welcome to bring the class on a non-gardening day to have students cut a bouquet for a special event. Any flower except sunflowers may be cut.
Harvest food if the garden educator says it’s OK. We do not use chemicals, so we encourage student samplings of produce right out of the gardens. Gardens are replanted during the summer so they are producing when the students return to school in the fall. During the fall term, we ask you not to do any large scale harvesting from your garden until all gardens are harvested for the harvest lunch in the cafeteria. Prior to that date, you are encouraged to harvest ripe produce for the students to sample at school.
- Check your garden in advance and take clean, fresh water, a paring knife, a plate, and toothpicks for a quick sampling at the end of your class.
- Students should not sample with unwashed fingers. Always use toothpicks, which are stored in your supplies and the barn.
- Please harvest from your class’s garden beds only.
- Garden Educators guide the harvesting process to insure that only ripe plants are harvested and that the food is harvested with the best method.
- Please do not send food home with students. Only harvest what you plan to sample with the entire class.
Treat garden animals with respect. Pick up garden animals only if the garden educator says it’s safe, and always return them to their garden home. Some examples of animals to avoid are caterpillars that have small hairs that can be irritating to our skin and centipedes and bees which may inject venom if they are annoyed with you.
Work at the bottom of compost or wood chip piles, and never climb them. This keeps students safe and prevents the piles from spreading.