All Images: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have released a follow up document to their 2005 publication, Setting Up and Running a School Garden. The newer manual is a School Garden Teaching Toolkit, comprising a bunch of step-by-step lessons to "engage learners actively and encourage them to observe and experiment."
Both manuals are very comprehensive, each being around the 200 page mark. As the FAO's Growing Connection blog describes it, the new Teaching Toolkit "will save hours of logistical planning and provide an excellent jumping-off point for teachers' own lessons in gardening."
The lessons in the newer document are based around a series of sequential questions: What is our garden for? Where do we start? What does our garden need?What shall we grow to eat? What shall we grow to sell? How do we grow things? How will we eat our garden food? What's the plan? All of which are designed for school children in the age nine to 14 age brackets, although we see no barrier to this wonderful information being used for other aged school kids.
And for that matter, there is wealth of information here equally appropriate for interested grown-ups, as well. Like what yields to expect from different plants, their respective nutritional value. Aside from how to plant and harvest there is also the good oil on how to store/preserve/process the foods too.
These manuals are not prissy, do-gooder publications. They're designed to be useful for schools the world over, including those in impoverished regions. The documents don't wear rose coloured glasses, instead they tackle the hard issues in a forthright manner. For example, in the new Teachers Toolkit, very real scenarios are presented for children to work through. One, for instance, has a couple of kids selling their produce at a farmers markets and deals with real-life issues of transporting produce, customer expectations, harvest times, pricing, supply and demand and the like.
If you have anything to do with kids and want them to have a fuller understanding of where good food comes from these publications would be an excellent place to start.
• Web version of Setting Up and Running a School Garden
• PDF version of Setting Up and Running a School Garden
• PDF of School Garden Teaching Toolkit
More School Gardening
• School Gardening Enhances Academic, Social, and Physical Skills in Children, Says Report
• California Allocates $15 Million for School Gardens
• A Defense of School Gardens and Response to Caitlin Flanagan's "Cultivating Failure" in The Atlantic
• How to Grow an Edible School Garden
• Philippines Trains Eco-Warriors