Spring has sprung! Buds are breaking and temperatures are rising. Warm weather brings so many opportunities–and work–in the garden. The spring season welcomes a proliferation of plants, grants, contests, and events for school garden educators.
As the soil becomes workable again, annual plant sales begin. This past weekend I attended the UC Davis Arboretum Plant Sale. People seemed surprised I would drive to Davis just to buy plants, but I find that sales associated with horticultural education or outreach programs offer a far greater variety than the selections at the local nursery. In addition, the prices are usually better, especially when coupled with a member discount or additional discount from kind nursery manager. (Thank you, Taylor Lewis!)
I was shopping for plants to fill a rain garden, a project funded by a Captain Planet Foundation grant. Rain gardens filter stormwater and reduce runoff by allowing water to saturate the soil and percolate more slowly. Rain garden plants must adapted to both drought and temporary periods of what gardeners call “wet feet.” Juncus patens is one such plant.
Also known as Grey Rush, this California native looks like a cross between a grass and a reed. It is commonly used in habitat restoration projects and sustainable landscape design.
If you’re not the grant-writing type, contests are a fun way to earn money for your school garden. For the last several years, kidsGARDENING.org has held a Carton 2 Garden contest. Register here to receive your entry kit, which includes seeds and promotional material. You can win up to $5,000 for a creative entry that demonstrates sustainable garden practices, STEM integration, and a connection to student health and nutrition. Check out this beautiful milk carton design for inspiration. Submissions will be accepted until April 22, 2017.
Finally, the California Farm-to-School Conference is in just two weeks in Modesto. This event brings together professionals across the food system, including growers, foodservice directors, educators, and eaters. A fantastic lineup of workshops and speakers was recently announced. I’ll be presenting Wednesday, March 27th at 9 am along with The Edible Schoolyard Project and The Ecology Center to share tried and true practices for learning gardens and kitchens.
Think spring and buy some plants, write a grant, enter a contest, or attend an event!