Once a school garden is built, for it to be useful as an educational space, it needs to be regularly maintained. Designing a sustainable system for weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting in the garden is the responsibility of the Rebel Gardeners. It just takes an hour twice a week for a group of 10 or so Rebel Gardeners to maintain a garden with ten 4×6 raised beds. The Rebel Gardeners also create the Master Crop Plan, a document that is posted in the main office of the school. This way everybody knows what is planted where in the garden, and what is ok to pick. It’s always nice to have a perennial herb garden for parents, teachers, and staff to harvest as often as they wish for personal use.
With the weeding and watering responsibilities taken care of by the Rebel Gardeners, this opens up the opportunity for any teacher in the school to use the garden as an outdoor classroom. In math students can measure and graph the growth of spinach leaves and in English the herbs, flowers, bugs, and butterflies will inspire poetry. Have an open door policy to teachers and students to plant their own vegetables, so long as they coordinate this with the Rebel Gardeners so the master crop plan can be adjusted accordingly. This fosters community ownership of the garden.
The work involved maintaining a school garden, while seemingly mundane, makes for great games. At first glance, few kids meet the task of weeding with great enthusiasm, especially of the weather is at all uncomfortable. But turn the weeding of the broccoli bed into a competition- whoever has the biggest weed pile in 10 minutes wins 5 grapes- and you’ll witness the focused and rapid extraction of root from ground. Just make sure to inspect the piles at the end, to make sure there aren’t any broccoli plants in the pile, as this results in automatic disqualification.
Like any Rebel Gardeners activity, each session begins with roles, responsibilities, and deliverables written on the board. Any trainings and demonstrations that are needed are carried out, and we all get right to work sustaining the health of the soil and of our community. The media crew documents the action.