Maricopa County: School and Community Gardens
University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension
How do I get started?
If you are planning to start a school garden or have recently been given responsibility for your school garden, then this is where you need to start. It will will be important that you think about some initial planning steps and who you want on board to support the school garden. The information here will also help you look at different ways to financially sustain the school garden as well as think about the importance of food safety.
Start with a Committee
Ask anyone involved with a successful school garden program and they will tell you many helping hands will make your school garden project easier to implement, maintain, and keep it sustainable for future school kids to enjoy for many years. So before you can put the shovel to the ground, it's important to find other like-minded individuals in your school community interested in helping out. This includes parents, teachers, administration and school maintenance.
From this larger group you can start to create your school garden committee to help organize, tackle and share the load of starting and maintaining your school garden. Most committees are between 6-12 members, depending on garden project size and goals, and ideally should be diverse, to help give your committee the resources and flexibility to create your school garden.
Creating and Using a School Garden as an Outdoor Classroom Handout - Montana State University
Garden Committee Responsibilities - Common Threads Farm
Forming a Garden Committee - Kids Gardening .org
Goals and Objectives
One of the activities of a school garden committee is to develop a set of measurable goals and objectives. You may want to accomplish many things, but start with four or five basic goals that can be accomplished in the first year and one or two goals that could be accomplished in the second year. Remember, a goal is something that you want to achieve while an objective defines a strategy or an action that you will take to move you closer toward achieving the goal. Read more
Timelines and Action Plans
Creating a timeline for starting, maintaining, or upgrading a school garden can contribute toward success with your project. Often these projects take longer than expected or end up costing more than planned. Read More
The Importance of an Annual Review
The purpose of the annual review is to make an overall assessment of the school garden. This should be led by the school’s garden coordinator. If the coordinator kept a journal and monitored the action plan the review can be an easy process. Once the review is complete a short report should be presented to the principal. You can also share the highlights from the report with your PTO, school newsletter or other supporting organizations to help keep interest and support to the school garden.
Some specific items to look at include:
- Were the goals set for the year achieved?
- If not can a quick assessment be done to determine why
- All goals should be evaluated and goals that were achieved should be removed from the action plan and any new goals with measurable objectives added.
- How much was the garden used for dedicated class time?
- How did teachers use the garden outside of dedicated class time?
- What are some suggested garden element improvement suggestions?
- Have there been any requests for activities or exercise related to the garden?
- What have the students said about the garden and their experience?
The University of Arizona, Maricopa County Master Gardeners have an active presence in School and Community Gardens in the County. To continue to grow and serve the members of our County better, the Master Gardeners have developed a map of current Seed Libraries, School Gardens and Community Gardens in Maricopa County.