By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service


Manhattan, KS- A pair of publications now available from Kansas State University are designed to help the growing number of Kansas teachers and students who are planting gardens at their schools.


Rebecca McMahon, a horticulture agent in K-State Research and Extension’s Sedgwick County office, said the publications were created based on an increasing number of requests for help.


“Most of the teachers and volunteers didn’t know what and when to plant to have a successful garden,” McMahon said. “There has also been increasing interest in school gardens as an outdoor, hands-on learning activity due to the pandemic.”


The publications — available online from the K-State Research bookstore – are:


“A school garden is about learning and new experiences, not about maximizing your harvest,” McMahon said. “Things that we might normally consider a failure or a problem in a regular garden are just another chance to learn something new when it happens in a school garden. But if we never get the garden planted, we can’t learn from the challenges. I hope these publications will make it easier for teachers, parents and schools to jump in and get their school gardens growing.”


McMahon will offer free, online training on March 31 for teachers, staff, volunteers or any others who “currently work or hope to work with a school or youth garden,” she said. Interested participants are required to register online.


“The publications are designed primarily to help schools that are in the process of developing a garden or have a garden established be able to use their garden more effectively by providing guidance on what to plant during different parts of the school year so there is always a learning opportunity ready for students,” McMahon said. “The publications also help direct schools to sources for lesson plans and curriculum or other gardening resources.”


She added that she hopes school employees and students will be inspired by new ideas contained in the publications.


“It is so common for schools to focus on the spring season in the garden, but there are so many ways they could be taking advantage of the fall growing season to plant, grow, and harvest amazing learning opportunities for their students,” she said. “The publications are filled with garden templates for each season to make it easy for a school to find a garden plan that fits their needs and can be adapted to fit their school culture and desired learning outcomes.
“A school garden doesn’t need to be all about vegetables or all about pollinators. It can include herbs, flowers, grains, vegetables, and fruit – even in relatively small spaces.”


More information on gardening also is available at local extension offices in Kansas.