School Garden Design Charrette with The Captain Planet Foundation

green team 2 Over 450 schools entered our Green School Makeover Competition last year, with an exceptional list of finalists! Northwest Collegiate Academy, a top 10 finalist, has been awarded a school garden thanks to the generous donation of a “learning garden” from the Captain Planet Foundation.

Global Green staff is now working to facilitate the planning and building process with Northwest Collegiate Academy’s student Green Team and Captain Planet Foundation’s Kyla Zaro-Moore. Last week, we hosted a cyber design charrette to help the Green Team brainstorm potential partners, outline goals for the garden project, and learn about garden design specific to their school site.

Madeline Ruzak 2Kyla helped guide the Green Team students through this process, including her “steps to creating a school garden”:

  • Seek admin approval
  • Create a support network
  • Identify goals and curriculum links
  • Design the garden
  • Identify supplies and funding needs
  • Obtain supplies and funding
  • Plant the garden
  • Maintain the garden
  • Sustain the garden

Here are a few tips we picked up for our Global Green followers:

current potted plants1. Sunlight is an important resource to keep in mind when planning the location of your garden. Kyla suggests tracking sunlight in a potential location using chalk lines every hour. This will help to estimate how much sunlight and shade the plants will receive.

2. Raised beds are a great option for many schools because they can be installed directly over pavement. The beds must be at least 18” deep and can utilize recycled or reclaimed materials to build walls.

3. Rain barrels can help capture and store rain water for watering your plants. Schools can often find low-cost or free barrels from local manufacturing facilities; however, you will want to ensure the barrel is “food grade” (no harmful chemicals stored in them previously). If you capture rainwater off of a tar roof, you’ll want to make sure you use a “first flush” device that will prevent contamination of your stored rainwater.

4. You can create a low-cost temporary/movable garden by clustering several 5 gallon buckets with a variety of plants. This process will help you determine which plants will thrive in your location, and serves as a good “test” method before garden installation.

5. Northwest Academy’s Green Team will engage their elementary school partners to create a peer education program using the Captain Planet Foundation resources. The Captain Planet Foundation features lesson plans for elementary age students on their website here and a great list of resources here.