Monday, March 9, 2015


PWS Student Drawing 
Planning is the key to a successful and sustainable garden, at home or at a school. There are many factors that need to be considered in the process of starting a garden at your school or childcare center. The first question you should ask is WHY. 
Write a mission statement with the stakeholders involved in moving this project forward. There are varied reasons why to make a garden that will ultimately impact the design, use and management. Your committee of stakeholders in the planning process should include the administrator, be it a principal or executive director. Without their support you will surely be fighting the tide. My experience is that when the decision makers (those who allocate funds,resources,policy,etc.) are on board and enthusiastic you will have quicker results and a much better chance of success. Also include staff that represent different age groups or grades, a parent or two, and, if available, the librarian and art teacher to be part of your planning team. Most importantly, the children should be involved in expressing their ideas and vision for the garden. It goes without saying that the garden is for them anyway!

PWS Garden
If the season permits, visit other school gardens to see for yourself the scope and breadth of varying approaches. I highly recommend visiting the Peter Woodbury School  (PWS) in Bedford, NH. If that is not possible you can see what they have accomplished by checking the school's websiteI was fortunate to be involved with this school yard design with my students from NHTI- Concord's Community College. We worked with the school to develop a Master Plan that transformed a playground into a school yard that includes an outdoor classroom, sand play area, dry river bed with bridge, meadow and an extensive school garden. My colleague and associate at Naturally Rooted LLC , Mindy Beltramo, is the school librarian and champion who took an idea and turned it into a reality! 
For more information about this project, ideas and how to make your vision a reality feel free to contact Mindy

Mindy will be contributing to the next post on WHY adding a garden provides an important connection to nature and hands on learning opportunities and experiences that would otherwise not occur for children. Be sure to check out the next post!

An upcoming conference on March 17th

In Bloom Boston: Nature-based Early Childhood Education

Sponsored by Antioch University,Mass Audubon & The George B. Storer Foundation, this conference will focus on the educational and health benefits of being outside with children. More on that latter as I will be there!

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