Establishing a committee is important for ensuring the success of a garden. The first step is to create a team who can work together to plan, create, maintain and sustain the garden. The committee should consist of key individuals who will actively participate in meetings, provide their knowledge of gardening and share responsibilities. Each garden committee will look and function a little differently depending on what the needs for the garden are.
The number of members should be based on the size of the garden. Decision making can be challenging when the committee is too large, but the work can become overwhelming if the committee is too small. A group with six or seven members is common and allows for easy discussions and successful decision making.
Once a committee has been established, a garden coordinator should be selected. This individual should be dedicated, organized and considered a leader by the committee members. Selecting an individual with garden and leadership experience is encouraged. The garden coordinator will be responsible for communicating among members, scheduling garden events, planning volunteer shifts and organizing committee meetings. To allow everyone the opportunity to participate in the gardening process, the garden coordinator should delegate responsibilities among committee members. It is important to think about how different members can participate and contribute within the garden committee. The responsibilities should be divided based on the skill sets, strengths and garden experience of committee members so that the tasks are not placed on one person. Members will be more willing to take on roles that build on their individual strengths and work with their schedules.
The garden committee should discuss what types of fruits and vegetables to plant, the location of the garden, the type of garden that will be planted, how to gain useful and affordable resources and establish times to work in the garden.
Potential committee members and other supporters include:
The director/owner is a key member who ultimately gives approval for the establishment and installation of a garden. The director/owner can provide year round oversight to the garden, recruit community and parental involvement, help with fundraising and create menus to include garden produce. The director/owner can ensure that caregivers receive training on integrating nutrition and agriculture education into the classroom.
Kitchen staff is critical for making the best use out of the produce that comes from the garden. They can develop new recipes that incorporate garden produce and provide guidance on food storage and safe handling practices.
CAREGIVER (REPRESENTATIVE OF EACH AGE GROUP)
Caregivers have the best knowledge to determine what is developmentally appropriate when gardening with young children. They can assign garden responsibilities to children based on their age and stage of development. Caregivers can also incorporate nutrition and agriculture education activities into daily routines.
Parents/guardians are influential role models for children. Invite parents/guardians to participate on the preschool garden committee because informed parents/guardians are more likely to carry-over what children are learning and doing at your center into their homes. Getting families involved will strengthen the success of the garden.
ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS:
CLEMSON EXTENSION AGENTS
Additional community members to consider for a preschool garden committee can be a great resource for those who might not have much gardening experience. Local farmers can provide their knowledge and experience to help with the garden. Community members and leaders can help identify and collect resources that are necessary for the garden to last many years. They can also act as a liaison for local community events and government, provide assistance with garden maintenance throughout the year and provide gardening knowledge and supplies. If you are new to gardening, a master gardener in your area can provide helpful advice and resources for your garden.
Administration is key for giving approval for implementing the garden. Administration can schedule time for teacher workshops, help with fundraising, gain community and parental support, involve volunteers in the planning process and fulfill other leadership responsibilities.
Teachers should be involved in a number of activities to include: incorporating the school garden into their lessons, coordinating activities, planting crops, seeking resources, recruiting volunteers and spreading information about garden activities to the community and school.
To benefit from school gardening, students should be involved in all stages of the process. By including students from the beginning, they gain ownership of the garden and an understanding of where their food comes from.
SCHOOL NURSE AND HEALTH EDUCATORS
Having the school nurse and health educators involved with the garden will help connect the school garden to the health and well-being of your students. They can assist with finding health related connections such as food safety, nutrition, physical activity and hygiene in the garden. The nurse can be available in case of potential bug bites or scratches that can happen while working in the garden.
FOOD SERVICE STAFF
The food service staff will help to make the best use of produce by preparing taste tests in the classroom or incorporating produce in the cafeteria. In addition, staff members can provide leftovers from the cafeteria for composting and provide guidance on food safety concerns.
LIBRARIAN AND MEDIA SPECIALISTS
School librarians and media specialists can aid in finding resources related to school gardening for students, teachers and parents.
Maintaining the garden proves to be a challenging task for many teachers and garden committee members. Maintenance/custodial staff can help maintain the garden during academic breaks and assist with storage. They can provide information about chemicals used on school grounds near the garden for the safety of those individuals participating in the garden or eating produce from the garden. Including maintenance/custodial staff will also prevent them from unknowingly harming any garden progress that has been made.
FAMILY MEMBERS/PTO/SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT COUNCIL
Involve parents in the school garden committee because they can provide resources, supplies, funds and volunteer their time to assist in the coordination and maintenance of the garden. Some parents may have gardening experience and can assist in planting, harvesting and general upkeep.
ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS:
CLEMSON EXTENSION AGENTS,
Additional community members to consider for the school garden committee can be a great resource for those who might not have much gardening experience. Local farmers can provide their knowledge and experience to help with the garden. Community members and leaders can help identify and collect resources that are necessary for the school garden to last many years. They can also act as a liaison for local community events and government, provide assistance with garden maintenance during the summer and school year and provide gardening knowledge and supplies.If you are new to gardening, a master gardener in your area can provide helpful advice and resources for your garden.