Summer break is here or almost here, and if you help manage a school garden or if you're considering starting a school garden, you might be wondering, "Who takes care of the garden during the summer?" Some schools choose not to grow warm season crops over the summer months, but some do with great success and are able to start the school year in August with mature plants producing many fruits.Our school garden in Ohio falls into the latter category, and by growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and other "summer crops" we're able to add another dimension to the school garden in the form of family involvement. Students plant the summer crops during school in May, and before the school year is over our volunteer garden team sends out a Sign Up Genius to all parents and guardians, giving them an opportunity to sign up to water and harvest the garden during the summer. We list sign up dates for every other day, and we empower families with information about how to know if they need to water, watering best practices, and harvesting, and we include talking points to make it an educational activity for the whole family (see attachment).I still remember the time I visited the garden when a family was there for their watering/harvesting day. The second grader told her dad, "I LOVE purple kale!" He responded, "Why? Because it's purple?", to which she exclaimed, "No! Because it tastes good!!", as she tore off a leaf and took a big bite! :) Inviting families to water and harvest, and giving them the knowledge and tools to be successful, beautifully engages our community. Not only do parents/guardians and students feel empowered by the ownership of the space, but it's a great family bonding experience. How do you manage summer watering and harvesting or other summer gardening maintenance? Let's share our tips! And if you have questions, we'd love to offer ideas to help!
Thank you for sharing! This document is so well thought out. I love the map and photos. It looks like you have a wonderful outdoor learning space!
The Growing School Food Gardens project is supported by a 2021 USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant. Learn more about this project.