Read at : KidsGardening
Author: Sarah Pounders
At urban schools, outdoor space is at a premium and is often completely covered asphalt or concrete. As you look around your urban schoolyard, a lush, green garden may be the last image to come to mind, but with a little creativity, planning, and hard work, a garden can be installed in any school setting. Here are some popular urban garden options:
You can configure container gardens to fit whatever space you have available. Typically, garden containers are pots and troughs made of clay, plastic, or wood, but plants aren’t fussy – they’ll grow in anything that holds soil and has drainage holes. Experiment with whatever is at hand, from discarded 5-gallon buckets to an old bathtub! Window boxes and hanging baskets are great if you have little or no ground space.
By adding handles or wheels, or placing containers on wheeled platforms, you can make your garden mobile, and can move plants around the space to where they’ll grow best as the season advances or as conditions change (e.g., the angle of the sun shifts slightly each day). If threat of vandalism is extreme, you can move containers to sheltered or locked area.
Choose containers that suit the needs of the plants you want to grow. For instance, herbaceous annuals and veggies with shallow root systems (nasturtiums, impatiens, lettuce, radishes) can grow in small containers, but deep-rooted veggies (tomatoes, potatoes), perennials, shrubs, and even trees need larger, deeper containers. See our Classroom Project, Gardening in Containers, for theme ideas, a plant list, and curriculum connections.
………………………….. For more information about raised beds, check out Making a Raised Bed Garden
Click here for an overview of green roofs.
Organizing and Planning
The planning process for a school garden is universal (see Planning, below), but urban garden programs need to pay special attention to the following challenges.
Access to Water
Delivery of Supplies
Related Lessons and Activities
Cylinder Gardening – An introduction to an inexpensive and practical way to incorporate gardens in urban settings. It requires no prior gardening experience and little preparation.
Urban Weather Investigations – The man-made environment influences microclimates, nowhere more so than the city. Students observe and analyze temperatures and stormwater runoff patterns, in this activity, and consider ways to mitigate the climatic extremes in the urban environment.
Resources and Stories
Steps to a Bountiful Kids Garden
Designing a Youth Garden
The School Garden Wizard
Gardens for Learning
How-to’s and Tips
Top 10 tips for Urban School Gardens
Making a Raised Bed Garden
Lead Contamination in Urban Gardens
Gardening in Containers
Landscape Plants for Special Sites
Plant List for Pre-K Gardens
Growing Wildlife Habitats
Community Gardener Jill Jones: Growing Bountiful Gardens and Community Pride
A San Antonio Success
A Garden Grows in New York City
Inch By Inch: Providence Youth Gardens for Change (8-minute online video)
Urban Sprouts School Gardens Blog
School Garden Weekly Blog
One thought on “Planning Urban School Gardens (KidsGardening)”
Last Child in the Woods ––
Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,
by Richard Louv
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
November 16, 2006
In this eloquent and comprehensive work, Louv makes a convincing case for ensuring that children (and adults) maintain access to pristine natural areas, and even, when those are not available, any bit of nature that we can preserve, such as vacant lots. I agree with him 100%. Just as we never really outgrow our need for our parents (and grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.), humanity has never outgrown, and can never outgrow, our need for the companionship and mutual benefits of other species.
But what strikes me most about this book is how Louv is able, in spite of 310 pages of text, to completely ignore the two most obvious problems with his thesis: (1) We want and need to have contact with other species, but neither we nor Louv bother to ask whether they want to have contact with us! In fact, most species of wildlife obviously do not like having humans around, and can thrive only if we leave them alone! Or they are able tolerate our presence, but only within certain limits. (2) We and Louv never ask what type of contact is appropriate! He includes fishing, hunting, building “forts”, farming, ranching, and all other manner of recreation. Clearly, not all contact with nature leads to someone becoming an advocate and protector of wildlife. While one kid may see a beautiful area and decide to protect it, what’s to stop another from seeing it and thinking of it as a great place to build a house or create a ski resort? Developers and industrialists must come from somewhere, and they no doubt played in the woods with the future environmentalists!
It is obvious, and not a particularly new idea, that we must experience wilderness in order to appreciate it. But it is equally true, though (“conveniently”) never mentioned, that we need to stay out of nature, if the wildlife that live there are to survive. I discuss this issue thoroughly in the essay, “Wildlife Need Habitat Off-Limits to Humans!”, at http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/india3.
It should also be obvious (but apparently isn’t) that how we interact with nature determines how we think about it and how we learn to treat it. Remember, children don’t learn so much what we tell them, but they learn very well what they see us do. Fishing, building “forts”, mountain biking, and even berry-picking teach us that nature exists for us to exploit. Luckily, my fort-building career was cut short by a bee-sting! As I was about to cut down a tree to lay a third layer of logs on my little log cabin in the woods, I took one swing at the trunk with my axe, and immediately got a painful sting (there must have been a bee-hive in the tree) and ran away as fast as I could.
On page 144 Louv quotes Rasheed Salahuddin: “Nature has been taken over by thugs who care absolutely nothing about it. We need to take nature back.” Then he titles his next chapter “Where Will Future Stewards of Nature Come From?” Where indeed? While fishing may bring one into contact with natural beauty, that message can be eclipsed by the more salient one that the fish exist to pleasure and feed humans (even if we release them after we catch them). (My fishing career was also short-lived, perhaps because I spent most of the time either waiting for fish that never came, or untangling fishing line.) Mountain bikers claim that they are “nature-lovers” and are “just hikers on wheels”. But if you watch one of their helmet-camera videos, it is easy to see that 99.44% of their attention must be devoted to controlling their bike, or they will crash. Children initiated into mountain biking may learn to identify a plant or two, but by far the strongest message they will receive is that the rough treatment of nature is acceptable. It’s not!
On page 184 Louv recommends that kids carry cell phones. First of all, cell phones transmit on essentially the same frequency as a microwave oven, and are therefore hazardous to one’s health –- especially for children, whose skulls are still relatively thin. Second, there is nothing that will spoil one’s experience of nature faster than something that reminds one of the city and the “civilized” world. The last thing one wants while enjoying nature is to be reminded of the world outside. Nothing will ruin a hike or a picnic faster than hearing a radio or the ring of a cell phone, or seeing a headset, cell phone, or mountain bike. I’ve been enjoying nature for over 60 years, and can’t remember a single time when I felt a need for any of these items.
It’s clear that we humans need to reduce our impacts on wildlife, if they, and hence we, are to survive. But it is repugnant and arguably inhumane to restrict human access to nature. Therefore, we need to practice minimal-impact recreation (i.e., hiking only), and leave our technology (if we need it at all!) at home. In other words, we need to decrease the quantity of contact with nature, and increase the quality.
Ehrlich, Paul R. and Ehrlich, Anne H., Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearances of Species. New York: Random House, 1981.
Errington, Paul L., A Question of Values. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1987.
Flannery, Tim, The Eternal Frontier — An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples. New York: Grove Press, 2001.
Foreman, Dave, Confessions of an Eco-Warrior. New York: Harmony Books, 1991.
Knight, Richard L. and Kevin J. Gutzwiller, eds. Wildlife and Recreationists. Covelo, California: Island Press, 1995.
Noss, Reed F. and Allen Y. Cooperrider, Saving Nature’s Legacy: Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity. Island Press, Covelo, California, 1994.
Stone, Christopher D., Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1973.
Vandeman, Michael J., http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande, especially http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/ecocity3, http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/india3, http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/sc8, and http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande/goodall.
Ward, Peter Douglas, The End of Evolution: On Mass Extinctions and the Preservation of Biodiversity. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.
“The Wildlands Project”, Wild Earth. Richmond, Vermont: The Cenozoic Society, 1994.
Wilson, Edward O., The Future of Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
It is anthropocentric thinking, and irresponsible, to promote the invasion of wildlife habitat without considering: (1) We want and need to have contact with other species, but neither we nor Louv bother to ask whether they want to have contact with us! In fact, most species of wildlife obviously do not like having humans around, and can thrive only if we leave them alone! Or they are able tolerate our presence, but only within certain limits. (2) We and Louv never ask what type of contact is appropriate! He includes fishing, hunting, building “forts”, farming, ranching, and all other manner of recreation. Clearly, not all contact with nature leads to someone becoming an advocate and protector of wildlife. While one kid may see a beautiful area and decide to protect it, what’s to stop another from seeing it and thinking of it as a great place to build a house or create a ski resort? Developers and industrialists must come from somewhere, and they no doubt played in the woods with the future environmentalists!