The number one thing to remember is to have fun. Event planning can be stressful but you can keep it super simple and still have a great offering for your community! Don't forget to encourage folks to visit other gardens too.
A simple agenda might include:
- Garden tours
- Student work displays
- Produce for sale
- Some simple snacks (maybe have a local business or restaurant donate, or have visitors help harvest their own straight from the garden)
- A fun garden scavenger hunt
See below for some more fun ideas and inspiration!
- Get the students involved as tour guides, or have students stationed around the garden at strategic points to give a little description/talk about that part of the garden project.
- Make signs to tell visitors about your work, and how parts of the garden are incorporated into the curriculum.
- Let students give demos on garden skills such as composting, container gardening, seed saving, or on one of their lessons that took place in the garden.
Art and Drama:
- Make this a multi-sensory day by having students perform skits or songs, or show videos made by students about the garden project.
- Provide giant posters on a wall for visitors to draw on.
- Have students draw a huge map of the garden and mount on corn stalks or poles.
- Have a poetry reading of students' work.
- Create a display of student photography, drawings or other artwork from the garden.
- Carve pumpkins; have a contest; have a theme.
- Music! Enlist the school band, chorus, or a few individuals to provide background music during the day.
- Scavenger hunt, I Spy, Follow-the-Leader, Mazes, any activities that get kids and adults moving and having fun.
- Make handouts which require visitors to fill in blanks or answer questions by locating items or signs around your garden or some of the displays. Or, maybe they have to quiz the tour guides and students to find the answers. Prizes for completed pages.
- Garden-themed bingo, lotto, matching games for younger kids.
Food, Cooking, Nutrition:
- Have a display of produce your students grew (or photos), labeled with name, variety and nutrition info.
- Have students give a demo of how they prepared some of their vegetables for classroom snacks.
- Have a table display around Maine Harvest Lunch week: menu, photos, linked classroom lessons, sample foods.
- Bring in a local chef to do a cooking demo, or to prepare a meal from your garden produce.
- Show student work which incorporates what they’ve learned from their gardening project and Maine Harvest Lunch about nutrition and health.
Your Garden Project and Curriculum Integration:
- This is a good chance to show just how much your school’s garden contributes to the educational quality of your school. Any or all curriculum topics can be worked into a display, set up on outside tables or arranged in a classroom.
- Show how your garden contributed to students' environmental literacy. Talk about organic practices, Integrated Pest Management (go here for IPM curriculum and info), recycling, habitats in the garden.
- Did any students do a special project around the garden? Maybe they can present a short talk about it.
- Have a student or garden coordinator present a history of the garden project, with photos or PowerPoint.
- Invite a graduate of the school to give a talk, or in some other way, show how the garden influenced their school experience.
- Have a teacher or administrator give a special presentation about how the garden enhances the curriculum.
- Did you donate produce to the local food bank, or work in another community service? Have a poster/display/photo story.
Demonstrations and Displays:
- Building/using a compost bin
- Building raised beds
- Gardening in containers
- What's a weed/what's a seedling
- Worms work for us
- How we turned sod into garden soil
- Bugs we have known
- Soil under a microscope
- Books/stories we created about our garden
Get Community Members Involved:
- Enlist people in the community: parents, business owners, farmers, chefs, garden club members, school neighbors, etc.
- Ask them to help organize the event, to donate supplies or funds, or to be part of any of your planned activities such as the above.
- Consider scheduling public talks by experts on gardening/cooking topics. Utilize community members, or contact the organizations below.
- Ask a local farmer to bring a tractor, some animals, a display of unusual veggies, or speak on their favorite topic.
- Ask a local book store to bring a display of gardening/nature/outdoor books.
- This is a great time to publicize any businesses or individuals who have donated time or materials to your garden project.
Use the day to raise some cash for your garden;
- Sell produce or seeds (your own or a local farmer’s)
- Hold a raffle or auction
- Organize a farmers’ market
- Sell prepared food or have a harvest dinner.
- Sell donated items.
- Sell student’s time to help community members with yard tasks/snow shoveling.
Recruit Volunteers for Next Year’s Garden:
Have a table set up to show a history of your garden project, what was involved in getting it off the ground, and what your needs are. Have a sign-up sheet and maybe your volunteer coordinator there to answer questions and recruit.
Utilize State-wide Organizations:
Cooperative Extension (www.extension.umaine.edu) has tons of printed information on gardening, both free and for low cost. They run the Master Gardener program, which trains volunteers to work in their communities. They also have staff experts on horticulture, cooking and food preservation that might be tapped for advice.
Maine Ag In the Classroom: ( www.MaineAgintheclassroom.org )
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association: (www.mofga.org)
Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Integrated Pest Management (www.maine.gov/ipm) Staff here is available for school visits.