Kick-Off Days are a great way to engage your whole school to install and plant a new Learning Garden. The goal of the event should be to fully install and plant the garden, and energize your school to enjoy and care for the new Learning Garden.
The main task of the event will be to build and plant the Learning Garden. For many schools, this will mean scheduling classrooms with specific tasks assigned to them. Each group of students will participate in the Learning Garden through hands-on activities facilitated by your school garden team.
One Month Before Your Kick-Off Day
Preparing Classrooms to Participate
- The first section of our Jumpstart: School Garden Leadership Course & Workbook will help your school establish a strong garden team, set goals for the garden, and strategize who will be participating in your Kick Off Day.
- Choose the classrooms to participate in the building and planting of the garden. More classrooms can participate in planting, watering, and other garden investigations but we recommend you limit groups doing the installation of the garden to those best suited to each task.
- Work with the garden team and your school administration to schedule the classes that will work in the Learning Garden. Use a copy of the Kick-Off Day Schedule Template to help plan out the different elements of the Kick-Off Day and the classes that will be participating.
- Plan additional activity stations for students to rotate through to break large classes into smaller groups and host more students in the garden for the Kick-Off Day. You can keep it simple or schedule an event like a STEAM or Wellness Fair to go all out.
- Prepare for more outdoor education at your school by sharing our Organizing the Outdoor Classroom Course and Kick-Off Day Prep Activity (K-2nd, 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, or HS) with classroom teachers.
- Communicate the details of the garden Kick-Off with all participants.
Finalize Your Learning Garden Design and Planting Plan
- Use the Learning Garden Design Template to determine how the garden will be laid out in your schoolyard.
- Reference the Big Green Seasonal Growing Guide for your location to help you plan where you will plant the different crops you’d like to grow in your garden.
- Share your completed garden design and planting plan with your school community.
Prepare to Keep Your Garden Well Watered
- Create and finalize a watering schedule prior to the Kick-Off Day that will keep the garden watered every day (utilize a calendar or scheduling tool already in place at your school).
- Start collecting materials for Up-cycled Watering Cans for classroom watering (12-15 watering cans). Big Green will
provide all other hoses and irrigation.
During the Kick-Off Day
School staff should plan to be in the Learning Garden to lead selected classes to build and plant the garden and any other planned activities.
A Typical Kick-Off Day
Kick-off activities can take 4-6 hours and involve several components:
- A small group of 4-6 middle/high school students, school staff, and or adult volunteers to place the beds, drill holes and bolt the garden beds together.
- Rotating groups of students and/or volunteers to add soil, install the irrigation system, plant, and water the garden (4-6 classes)
- Consider hosting a garden watering orientation for everyone supporting daily watering. The Kick-Off Day is a great opportunity to engage parents and other volunteers.
Kick-Off Day Safety
- Be prepared to work outside: Send letters home to families so students arrive prepared with weather-appropriate clothing, and closed-toe shoes. Students should be prepared for clothing to get dirty.
- Make sure students are sun-safe: apply sunscreen, wear a hat for the sun, and drink water.
Garden Orientations and Watering Training
Big Green recommends school teams use their Kick-Off Day, to communicate, train, and reinforce the garden roles, schedules, activities, and any supporting resources and training for all participants. The responsibility of coordinating and communicating the work of the garden is as significant as the building and planting the garden.
After the Kick-Off Day
Your school will take on the full responsibilities involved in caring for and teaching in the Learning Garden. Big Green and our partners provide resources to help anyone at your school use the garden as a powerful tool to achieve your school’s goals.
Work with your admin and garden team to schedule a time to introduce the entire staff at your school to the Learning Garden. Build the garden into annual planning and budgeting processes to keep building the sustainability of your garden program.
- Schedule 30-60 minutes during a school PD session, or staff meeting, to introduce your school to the Learning Garden.
- Offer a short tour of the garden. Give teachers an opportunity to get their hands in the soil or plant a seed.
- Highlight the goals for the garden and how it will be used.
- Plan to share resources to help other teachers feel comfortable using the garden with their classes.
- Include time for watering training, and specifically invite teachers and parents who will support watering.