At some schools, the team will send out sign-up sheets to parents during the last couple of months before the school year ends, so that a different parent or family will “adopt” the schoolyard maintenance each week during the summer. Trained volunteers are also asked to sign-up for a slot, so that a volunteer will be able to coach or mentor the parents and their children as they do the various maintenance activities needed. The key aspect here is the training, i.e. the volunteers are either gardeners themselves and know how to do maintenance, or the committee has conducted a training before summer, to prepare volunteers for the anticipated work.
In other cases, for those schools which will have a summer day camp based at their facility, it’s possible to coordinate maintenance activities with the day camp director. Ideally, day camp lesson plans will use the outdoor classroom to its best advantage, and they can therefore keep an eye on the weeds and watering during the summer session as they enjoy activities in the garden.
Collaborating with scout leaders and 4-H groups can also be very helpful. Many of these groups welcome gardening-based activities, and a schoolyard habitat could be the place to meet during the summer and participate in maintenance activities.
It’s important to keep in mind that we’re talking about “general” garden maintenance, not heavy work like earth-moving or complicated repairs to arbors and fences. These tasks require more “one-on-one” volunteer work: identify the parent or volunteer in the school community who owns the necessary equipment or has the required skill, and call on them to do a specific task.
As always, be sure to plan awards for those volunteers who step forward, and recognize them during “back-to-school” night in the fall, to keep the momentum going.
I like the ideas for integrating the garden into curriculum - I am going to try that with our school. I have the garden, now I am trying to get the school more involved to use it and maintain it. The summer there is a group of 8 families that take a week to water. Thanks for sharing
I've paid children to water the plants who live near my school. I've also had neighbours assist and school janitors too.
Another solution is to look at timed irrigation systems.
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