School garden

Introduce Yourself
Joanne Harvey
Joanne HarveyDumbarton, United Kingdom

Hi, we have had a tiny school garden for ten years with minimal interest from pupils. However, this year, a few very enthusiastic children started to come along and within 8 months they now have a working garden. We have raised beds for veggies, flower and shrub areas, and pathways. Lots of pathways (the boys like digging!). Last summer most of the garden was waist high weeds (not even nice wild flowers). Next summer, we aim to have a small area of weeds (in our wild area) but have lots of ideas for designing new areas.

While we are simply an after-school club just now, we have bigger dreams. I'd love to be following a course that the children get recognition for what they are learning and achieving. However, more importantly, I want them to leave school with the enthusiasm and ability to grow their own food and perhaps even make a living from what they have learned.

How can we be part of this wider world of growing?

1 comment

Hi Joanne, it's great to hear that you have dreams to encourage your schoolchildren to be enthused to grow their own food and learn about their soil.

The GROW Observatory welcomes growers of any age to take part in our citizen science activities. We are creating a Europe-wide GROW Observatory to help hundreds and then thousands of growers to learn together on the GROW website and through the online teaching platform FutureLearn, and take action in growing spaces wherever they are, locally and across Europe. They will get to try out exciting new ways to improve their soil and food production methods. Participants do simple, coordinated soil experiments to capture and make sense of data on their local environment. This helps validate good local growing practices and international environmental monitoring.

We suggest that you start by registering your school garden project as a participant in GROW at our website <> where you can also sign up for our e-newsletter (next one due out 15 Dec). You can then choose to sign up as individuals or as a teacher/leader to take the free open online course Citizen Science: From Soil to Sky which starts on 19 February 2018. It lasts for four weeks and you need to have about 4 hours available per week to complete it.

Paid certificates can be applied for from FutureLearn for each person who is registered as a participant, but the course itself is free. You wonโ€™t require any special equipment for this course except access to a computer/laptop and the internet. For some of the activities you will need easily available tools such as glass jars or garden poles but all the tools required will be detailed in the relevant sections of the course. You could decide to have one leader taking the course who then assists the young people to complete the steps each week, or some of our community gardeners gather together each week online to go through the steps on the online course, learning and supporting each other together. There is a place to ask questions and load answers on the course and on this discussion forum on the GROW website if you want to ask questions or get feedback from other growers. We look forward to meeting you on our community forum and welcoming you into our growing community of citizen soil scientists. If you have any questions, or want to find out more about GROW, you can ask them here or email You can register for the first online course here: Citizen science: From Soil to Sky (