Elementary Agricultural Education, 1917

Instructions to Teachers and School Boards with Reference to School and Home Gardening

Teachers and School Boards who propose conducting school or home gardens are reminded that the Department should be notified not later than the 1st day of March. No special application form is needed. A brief statement from the Secretary of the Board in the format of a letter is sufficient.

School Garden plans

Each teacher who proposes to conduct school-gardening with his or her pupils must prepare a plan of the proposed garden, to be forwarded by the secretary of the school board when sending the above-mentioned notice to the department. As School Boards are responsible for meeting the necessary expenditures in establishing and conducting the school-garden during the season, it is necessary that they give their consent to the work.

School-garden plans should always be drawn to scale, using ink on good paper. Blue prints are not called for. Garden-plans form an excellent exercise for older pupils in scale drawing. All lettering should be neatly done, and every plan should show:

  1. size of garden
  2. size and arrangements of plots and paths
  3. divisions or classes occupying different parts of the garden
  4. plots to be used in vegetable-growing
  5. plots or borders set apart for the growing of annual or perennial flowers
  6. class or community plots, distinguished from individual plots
  7. plots for agricultural experiments
  8. plots for growing seedling trees and shrubs, or for the propagation of fruits by budding and grafting
  9. location of the garden with reference to fences, buildings, or streets (use arrows and number of feet only)
  10. indication of direction by pointer or marking the sides
  11. name of the school on the upper left hand corner
  12. name of the teacher in the lower right hand corner.

Class plots and plots for agricultural experiments should be large, not less that 400 square feet (20 x 22 feet is approximately one-hundredth of an acre). The simple rectangular form of plot is most desirable; intricate geometrical forms and designs should be avoided. Individual plots for third and fourth reader classes should not be less than 5 x 8 feet, nor more than 6 x 10 feet, and for first and second reader classes, about 4 x 6 feet, or one of the above plots between two pupils. Flower borders from 2 to 3 feet wide look well on outside boundaries, and in large gardens, through the center along lines separating the gardens belonging to different rooms or divisions.

Tall growing plants and bulky crops, like corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and vine crops (squash, cucumbers etc.), should not be placed in individual plots, but in the large class of experimental plots. Care must be exercised by teachers in the choosing of varieties of flowers and vegetables. A pupil should not be allowed to grow more than 2 or 3 varieties of flowers and vegetables at once. Early crops, like lettuce and radish, which would be used in June, should be followed by late maturing crops, such as tomatoes, cabbage, beets, turnips, parsnips, etc. Pupils may be allowed to grow only one variety if they wish, and they should never be asked to grow something that they do not care for. Garden seed should be bought by bulk when several pupils wish the same variety, and not by the packets.

Area of School-Gardens

In order to be eligible to receive the Government grant for school gardening, it is necessary that the school-garden have a certain area as minimum. For each room of a graded school taking gardening the required minimum area is 2500 square feet, which area is also the minimum for ungraded schools having an average daily attendance of fifteen or over. In case of small ungraded schools with an average daily attendance of less than fifteen, the minimum area for school gardening purposes is 1500 square feet. In all cases the area referred to includes the borders and walks of the garden and may also include ornamental plots and borders in the grounds which are regularly planted and cared for by the pupils engaged in the school-garden proper. When the number of pupils taking part in a school-garden exceeds twenty, it will be found desirable to have the area of the garden well above the minimum mentioned, especially if the pupils are mostly in advanced classes. In so far as possible, all of the features referred to above should be included in every school garden.

Home Gardens.

There are numerous instances in the Province where it is not practical to establish a school garden in or convenient to school-grounds, on account lack of available space or because of impossible soil conditions. In such cases a home gardening scheme should be carried out, or a combination of home and school gardening. As home-gardening makes somewhat larger demands upon the individual pupils in the second, third, and fourth grade reader classes only and that the smaller children have a small, neatly arranged garden at the school, where they can be under the constant supervision of the teacher. This school-plot for the primary classes should not contain more 50 square feet per child the necessary walks or paths. This small garden for primary classes has an additional advantage in that it also serves the purpose of a demonstration garden for the pupils who have home gardens, will be able to give instruction to the pupils operating home gardens in a much more practical and effective way.

To have official recognition the following requirements must be observed:

  1. At least two-thirds of pupils enrolled in each division undertaking the work must agree to take part, either in individual home-gardens or (if in primer and first-reader classes) in the small "teaching-garden" at school. It is, of course, desirable that all should take part.

  2. Each pupil having a home-garden must submit to the teacher a plan of his plot, drawn to scale, and showing the arrangement of flowers or vegetables. Both flowers and vegetables may be grown in the home-garden if the size purpose of the garden warrant it. It is preferable however, that pupils confine their attention to not more than two or three varieties.

  3. The area actually under cultivation in home-garden plots must not be less than 100 square feet per pupil for pupils in third and fourth reader classes, and not less than 50 square feet for pupils in lower grades. No maximum area is mentioned, so that teachers and pupils may have a good deal of latitude in choosing their home-gardening projects, and for this reason teachers should guard against the adoption by their pupils of gardening schemes too ambitious in exacting.
    Whilst many pupils will, of course, do a good deal of work in the main family garden, each should have his own particular section - his "educational garden" - in which he is working out some definite agricultural or horticultural problem. The problem to be undertaken by each pupil should first be decided upon by teacher and pupil together.

  4. The teacher must personally visit each home-garden at least once before the summer holidays and once after, and send to the Director of Elementary Agriculture Education (not to the School Inspector) a report of each visit, with the garden score of each home-garden on score cards supplied by the Department for the purpose. These reports of garden visits should form part of the teacher's general report on rural science required to be sent at the end of each school term, the first on the 15th day of June and the second not later than the 15th of December. School Boards should assist the teachers in carrying out the home-garden inspection work, especially in the matter of providing a suitable means of conveyance from house to house.

  5. Each pupil in second, third and fourth reader classes must keep a neatly written record of his home-garden work during the entire season, and should report to his teacher weekly, either orally or in writing. A special note-book devoted exclusively to home-gardening and nature-study would be most satisfactory. All information pertaining to the nature of the soil, location of the garden, and the weather, conditions prevailing should be recorded.

  6. The teacher must give attention to the correlation of the home-garden work with other school subject, just as is done in connection with regular school-garden work. Home- garden as well as school-garden work should greatly facilitate the work to be done to be done in nature-study. To learn to make and care for gardens in the best way is indeed a valuable end in itself, but must constantly be kept in mind that during the public-school stage of child interest and development the educational and disciplinary rather than the industrial or intrinsic values should occupy first place, at least in the teacher's estimation. The garden then should rather be used as a means to an end and not as an end itself.

Supplementary Projects

Cases may arise where some of the pupils in a class or division may find it difficult or impossible to have a garden at home. In all such cases the teacher should ascertain how many pupils are so situated and arrange to have them undertake some other suitable agricultural or horticultural project. The following list of home projects suggests a few which under certain circumstances might be suitable:

  1. The raising of a flock of chickens. In cases where it is difficult for pupils wishing to undertake the poultry-raising project to get suitable eggs for hatching, the School Board may purchase these for a limited number of pupils and include the cost of the eggs in the financial statement supplied to the Department in December.
  2. Feeding and tap-nesting of a pen laying hens for a period of not less than six months. Pupils undertaking this project should take complete charge of the pen during the season, keeping careful records and submitting a financial statement.
  3. The care and management of a hive bees for a season, with records.
  4. The care of a lawn and ornamental flower borders or plots from spring until frost; a plan of the flower borders or plots to be included with careful records of work and observations.
  5. The care and management of small fruits during the season from spring until fall, with records.
  6. The study and control of garden and orchard insects during the season with insect collections and records of observation.
  7. The feeding and care of a dairy cow for a period of not less than six months; keeping records of feed and milk production (boys of fourth reader classes only).
  8. The feeding and care of a young animal, such as a pig or calf, for not less than six months; records of feed and grain in weight per month to be kept [boys of fourth & fifth reader class only ).
  9. The growing, preparation and canning of at least four varieties of garden produce, with records of the work; at least two quart jars of each being prepared (girls of fourth-reader classes only).
  10. A weekly home-cooking project during a period of at least twelve weeks, including the making of bread, buns, biscuit, cake, pudding, and, preserved fruit. (girls of fourth reader classes only).
  11. A weekly home-sewing project during a period of at least twelve weeks, including mending, darning, and the making of simple garments; all samples of work completed to be submitted to the teacher once a month, and to be available for exhibition at the end of the term (girls of fourth-reader classes only).

When possible it should be arranged that not less than five pupils in a school or division undertake the same project, so as to make a competition in the results of such project at the end of the season in connection with a School Fair. Great importance is attached to the keeping of full and accurate records in connection with these home projects, just as has already been mentioned under home-gardening. In all cases teachers are required to make at least one visit to the homes where these projects are being carried out before the summer holidays, and one after, and to report as in home gardening. Other suitable home projects may be arranged by teachers and pupils, but they must have the approval of the Director if departmental assistance is to be granted.

Although any of the above supplementary home projects are permissible it should be borne in mind that in the great majority of cases the regular home-gardening work is to be preferred, and is usually less expensive to carry out. School Boards must be prepared to supplement the departmental grants allowed in connection with this work in order to ensure the success of these school and home projects, and also the success of the School Fair held in connection with them.

For the information and guidance of School Boards who are undertaking school- gardening for the first time, the following list of tools and school-garden equipment is submitted:

Minimum for 25 to 30 pupils

Material for plot pickets and garden labels, paint and brush, bottles for seeds, small hand- saw, hammer or hatchet, block plane, file, etc.

In graded schools the same tools are used by the pupils of the different rooms. In cases where the number of pupils taking part in schools gardening is less than 25, the above list can be cut down accordingly. If there are no pupils below the second-reader class taking part, all of the garden-hoes should be of the 5 inch blade type. Additional equipment to be added later

Facilities for storing the above equipment must be provided. Toolracks are best and can be made by larger boys in most cases. All garden-tools should be kept under lock and key.

British Columbia. Department of Education, Instructions to Teachers and School Boards with Reference to School and Home Gardening, (Victoria, B. C.: William H. Cullin, Printer to his Excellent Majesty, 1917.

Transcribed by Angelina Christopher, History 349, Malaspina University-College, May 2001

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