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)


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


  • 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