From Rachel Pringle
The tiny seed of our book How to Grow a School Garden germinated in the rich soil created by the wave of interest in gardening and DIY fabulousness that is permeating much of our current culture. The weight of this economic anvil is pressing many of us to figure out ways to do more with less; make your own pickles, jams, sausage, pillow cases, and dresses. Build your own bicycle, and reuse every jar and plastic bag. Grow your own food! It's amazing to discover out of what we can make a living and what miracles can happen in our own backyards. Here in San Francisco, green-thumbed entrepreneurs have emerged who help urban residents transform their postage stamp-sized backyards into "farms." Community gardens are growing from retired freeway off-ramps. More and more communities are interested in investing sweat equity in their neighborhood schools; school gardens are hot!
And all of this has happened before.
There have been cycles of economic prosperity and depression in our history and, of course, shifts in popular interest, too. The school garden concept isn't new, by any means. In our book we describe periods during which natural or outdoor education was popular and school gardens flourished, as well as moments in our history when national events dictated a more frugal and self-sufficient lifestyle; many households kept a kitchen garden in the first half of the 1900s.
It is my hope, however, that the current interest in school gardens (and self-sufficiency, for that matter) will not wane. Especially in urban areas, cultivating awareness of the natural world will be critical to the future of our planet. And investing in our public schools by greening a portion of an expansive asphalt yard is, indeed, a hopeful community-building exercise. How to Grow a School Garden is as much about organizing communities as it is about gardening with students. Schools are a part of the tapestry of a town or city and they can be fertile spaces for involvement. We hope that by sharing our experiences and successes in creating outdoor learning environments for students, more and more of these projects will start to take root.