British Columbia. Department of Education Circular, 1915

Memorandum to Teachers and School Boards in British Columbia
Regarding the Care of School Gardens during the Summer Holidays

Office of the Director of Elementary Agriculture Education, Victoria, June 8th, 1915

In order to prevent the school gardens now in operation in the Province from failing through lack of care and attention during the summer holidays, it will be necessary to make some definite arrangement whereby the gardens will receive regular cultivation and, where necessary, watering. Teachers should, first of all, aim at having the gardens in the very best condition when school closes, at the end of June. Plots and paths should be entirely free from weeds and the soil around the plants in a fine and well cultivated condition. If the soil is kept in this condition, less water will be required than if left uncultivated. Particular care should also be exercised in having the flowers and vegetables properly thinned out. Plants when full-grown should just meet, but not crowd, each other. When watering is necessary it should be done very thoroughly and; if possible in the evening, and then the following day the soil should be cultivated to a depth of two inches. Such treatment should be given once every week.

It is expected that pupils of each school where gardens have been established will do the greater part of the this work during the summer holidays, and if they have not lost interest in the garden they will do it voluntarily. The gardens belong to the pupils, and upon each pupil should rest that responsibility which always goes with ownership. However, there are cases where, through absence from home or other good cause, it is a practical impossibility for some pupils to attend regularly to their gardens. To cover all such cases and to ensure safety and success to the gardens, it would be well for teachers, in conjunction with their respective School Boards, to consider and act upon the following suggestions relating to the care of school gardens during the summer holidays:

A Garden Supervisor

A suitable person, one who is interested in the school garden and in sympathy with the work and interests of the school generally, should be definitely engaged by the Board to spend one half-day per week working in the garden. In gardens for more than one room of thirty pupils he should spend one whole day per week. The day must be definitely arranged for before the close of school and announced accordingly in the school. This will be school-garden day during the entire period of the summer holidays and should be agreed upon, say 9 a. m. or 1 p. m.

The teacher should assist in arranging all details connected with the work for the summer, and can do great deal to secure good work throughout and a good attendance on the part of the pupils. The garden supervisor should, of course, be in the garden at least one-half hour earlier than the time appointed for the children to arrive, for the purpose of planning the work for the day or half-day. If the pupils do not use too much time in talking about "current topics" one hour for each should suffice to leave their plots in good condition. In no case should they spend more than two hours in the garden in one day.

The garden supervisor will mark the attendance of the pupils on school-garden day in the school register in the usual way , and will make a report to the Board at the close of the summer holidays. He will have complete charge of the garden during the holidays, and when the pupils are in the garden will instruct them as to what work is to be done each day, will give out the gardening-tools when needed and see that the pupils put them in place again, properly cleaned. He will use his judgment as to what vegetables the pupils may take from their garden-plots. Nothing can be removed from the garden without his consent. He will note progress of growth from week to week and will instruct the owners of plots in matter of removing such vegetables as are ready for table use. Flowers should be picked weekly, and special blooms tagged if wanted or selected seed. He should acquaint the Board with the progress of the pupils' work from time to time.

Competitions and Prizes

At the discretion of the Board, some inexpensive prizes or honourable distinction of some kind might be given to pupils credited with perfect attendance; or prizes (not money) might be offered, either by the Board or by some local organization, for the best garden-plot , attendance on school garden day to be considered in conjunction with excellence of the plots in competition must be done exclusively by the pupils to whom the plots belong.

In a city or municipality where several school gardens are in operation under the jurisdiction of one Board, a contest for the best all-round garden might be inaugurated, the winning school receiving some recognition of the good work done by being presented with some suitable trophy-shield, medal, or cup to be competed for from year to year. The school winning the trophy for three successive seasons would become its permanent custodian. Care should be observed in selecting disinterested and competent judges. Gardens should be judged once in July and again in the latter part of August.

Suggested Scale points to be used in Judging

Regularity of attendance during eight weeks' summer vaction 80 points
Garden notes, plans, drawings, and business statement 20 points

Plot Score

Care in planting and arrangement 10 points
Thinning and regularity 10 points
Cultivation 15 points
Freedom from disease and insect pests 15 points
Amount and quality of bloom in flower-plots 20 points
Amount and quality of crop in vegetable plots 20 points
Neatness of paths adjacent to plot 10 points
Total 100 points

Home Gardens

The care of home-garden plots during the summer holidays rests altogether with the owners. Teachers are expected to inspect the home plots once in June and once in the latter part of August. If the school Board so wishes, a home garden competition can be carried along the lines already pointed out for school-garden plots. The judges would need to visit the home gardens early in July and once again about the middle of August. Where home gardens are being conducted it is very desirable to hold a schools exhibition day, when the owners of these gardens will bring samples of the crops grown and will compete for such prizes as the Board may provide.

Funds for Prizes

Where home gardens are conducted by the pupils of the school, the School Board is entitled to the same grants as are quoted for the maintenance of school gardens in Circular No. I.... The grants to School Boards in connection with both home and school gardening are payable at the close of the gardening season, at the end of September, on the report of the School Inspector or other appointed officer of the Department, together with signed statement from the Board setting forth the exact expenditures for the year in connection with the gardens. In most cases it will be necessary for School Boards to supplement these grants, either from their usual sources of revenue or from special subscriptions, school entertainments, etc.

School Picnics and Excursions

A great deal can be done by parents and trustees to add alike to the profit and the enjoyment of the school population of their city or district by arranging at least one summer excursion, or school picnic, during the holidays. There are usually within easy reach of the school certain places of interest and natural beauty where picnics might be held, including a good programme of sports. The various women's organizations of the Province might lend their valuable assistance by co-operating with School Boards in this most deserving work of making the long summer vacation more interesting, and also more profitable, for our boys and girls in British Columbia.

J. W. Gibson

Director of Elementary Agricultural Education

Victoria, B. C. Printed by William H. Cullen, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1915.

Transcribed by Angelina Christopher, History 349, Malaspina University-College, May 2001
< Elementary Agricultural Education Branch < 1917 Instructions to Teachers and School Boards