Edible School Garden Planning Matrix

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Goal I: Organize Planning Committee Objective

Informally determine if adequate interest exists in implementing a school garden (Don’t forget to collect names and e-mails of interested parties.)

Organize a general meeting of interested participants

  • teachers
  • parents
  • students
  • maintenance staff
  • 4-H leaders
  • master gardeners/garden club members
  • schoolground neighbors
  • other

Define specific knowledge, skills and experience needed

  • site selection and preparation
  • designing the garden & plant selection
  • installation work schedules
  • maintenance work schedules
  • curriculum development
  • financial support (partnerships/fundraising)
  • school ground neighbors
  • other

Solicit committed, responsible, knowledgeable and/or enthusiastic committee members to meet identified criteria

Determine how leaders will be chosen and decisions will be made

Select point persons (sub-committee chairs) for each work area

Define how rules will be developed and enforced

Decide how finances will be managed


Goal II: Develop a Plan for Edible Garden Objective

Develop collective vision for garden usage

Define rationale for garden development

Garner support from administration (will likely need plan)

Prepare list of potential partners/funders

  • Grants
  • Private foundations
  • Corporate partners
  • Non-profit partners
  • Government partners
  • PTSA
  • Individual donations
  • School fundraising projects

Develop budget (include tools, materials, seeds & plants) Don’t forget to include in-kind labor contributions!

Identify (and price) tools and materials needed

  • tools (hoe, rake, shovel, multiple hand trowels, 3-pronged hand cultivators)
  • seeds/plants
  • pots
  • soaker hoses & watering can
  • edging/raised bed framework
  • garden cart/wheelbarrow
  • garden stakes/row markers
  • string & tape measure
  • compost
  • mulch
  • pH soil test kits (see soil test information in Managing an Organic Garden)
  • tool shed
  • greenhouse
  • rainproof bulletin board
  • benches for classroom activities

Develop garden design. Will it include . . . ? (See Step 3 in OSU School Garden Guide.)

  • individual class beds
  • theme gardens
  • raised beds
  • compost area
  • greenhouse
  • shady area for classroom activities
  • beanstalk fort
  • rainwater catchment
  • green roof

Determine edible plants for garden – suggestions include:(depends upon planting season desired)

  • asparagus
  • basil
  • bean
  • bell/sweet pepper
  • broccoli
  • cantelope
  • carrot
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • garlic
  • leek
  • lettuce
  • okra
  • onions
  • pea
  • peppers
  • pumpkin
  • radishes
  • spinach
  • squash
  • strawberries
  • sweet corn
  • tomato
  • turnip
  • watermelon

Organize a student site analysis.

  • How many hours of sunlight does it have daily? (needs 6-8 hrs.)
  • What is the proximity to an adequate water source? Where is the spigot?
  • Do soil tests detect adequate nutrients and/or potential heavy metal content?
  • Do underground utilities exist in this area?
  • Does area have an adequate surface area (Is it flat or sloped?)
  • Is there adequate accessibility for gardeners to work?
  • Will there be shade for classroom activities? What time of day?
  • How is area used now? Is it near a play area or other high traffic zone?
  • Is there adequate drainage? (Are there standing puddles?)

Determine how maintenance will be handled

  • Determine who will oversee this important area
  • Sign-up people who will participate
  • List particular tasks to be accomplished (clean-up, watering, weeding, harvesting, etc.)
  • Provide year-round schedule
  • Send reminders for work days
  • Provide appreciation for workers

Goal III: Implementation of Edible Garden Plan Objective

Solicit and acquire funding (Assign point persons to list in Goal II)

Purchase tools, materials and seeds/plants

Analyze soil for:

  • Potential remediation for contamination
  • Erosion problems
  • Water puddles on surface
  • Lack of adequate nutrients

Prepare site

  • Plan work day & assign volunteers to duties
  • Clean-up and remediation (remove items such as trash, weeds, shrubs, cement, brush, rocks, posts, etc.)
  • Determine amount of sunlight available for garden areas
  • Measure and layout garden areas
  • Work soil & apply organic soil amendment
  • Add to or reduce slope

Sowing or transplanting

  • Know your average last-frost date (specific to your location)
  • Determine your soil’s temperature
  • Test soil moisture
  • Know your crops
  • Add organic matter (see Managing an Organic Garden)

Maintenance

Determine who will handle summer vacation upkeep and what will be considered weeds

Focus on weed prevention (see Managing an Organic Garden)

  • Stop the seed (“One year’s seeding makes seven years weeding”)
  • Grow plants close together
  • Pull them before they get established
  • Mulch
  • Plant densely
  • Use plastic sheeting, newspaper or weed-barrier cloth over planting areas with holes for plants to grow through

Weed removal

    • Pull, don’t yank, perennial weeds or use a shove to dig out persistent ones (get as much of root & runners as possible)
    • Use hoe to scrape off top layer of annuals (don’t dig deeper than 1 inch)

Discourage Vandalism

  • Make a sign for the garden so people know it is a school project.
  • If using a fence, plant raspberries, roses or other thorny plants along a fence to act as a barrier to fence climbers
  • Include children in the garden development. They can often be the garden’s best protectors
  • Ask neighboring residents to keep a protective eye on it.
  • Harvest all ripe fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Produce falling off the vine invites trouble.
  • Plant potatoes, other root crops or less popular vegetables such as kohlrabi along the sidewalk or the fence. Plant purple varieties of cauliflower, beans or white eggplant to confuse a vandal.
  • At the entrance to the garden, plant a sharing garden w/sign: “If you must pick, please take it from here.”

Goal IV: Follow-up Objective
Send thank yous to donors upon . . .

  • Presentation of gift
  • Groundbreaking, ribbon-cutting or dedication ceremony
  • Anniversary of gift
  • Year’s end
  • Campaign’s end

Evaluate

  • success of maintenance plan
  • success of crops (for selection of next year’s plants)
  • appropriateness of site selection
  • size and reliability/potential continuance volunteer base
  • sufficiency/potential continuance of funding