Once the area has been surveyed and a site has been selected, the school can begin to envision their ideal school garden. The school garden team should hold a vision-creation session to formulate a better idea of what the garden should become. This exercise serves to generate discussion among teachers and students about the character of the garden, its primary uses, and the school’s priorities for the space.

The outcome of the Vision Meeting will be a mission statement and concept design for the garden and should be included in your proposal.

Do it democratically!
In addition to team members, invite other faculty, student representatives, a few interested parents, and active community members as appropriate so that everyone who is impacted by the garden has a voice in the planning process. Including a range of perspectives will result in a greater depth of information and will generate good will as well as increased support and participation in the entire school community.

Schedule the Vision Meeting at a time when most participants can attend, ideally setting aside at least 90 minutes for the exercise.

  • Assign one team member to act as a facilitator.
  • Another garden team member should take notes and be prepared to transcribe them so that no valuable ideas are lost.
  • A third team member should keep track of the group’s comments on chart paper, chalkboard, or another large writing surface, so that all can see and react to the input.

Start the session
A facilitator begins the discussion by posing a series of open-ended questions to the group.
  • What would you like students to learn in the garden?
  • What would you like them to do?
  • What topics do you teach that might be enriched by a garden?
  • What additional topics could you teach if you had a school garden?
  • What student interests might be expressed in this garden?
  • What are some potential educational goals for this project?
  • What other purposes might this garden serve?
  • What existing landscape features present opportunities for an educational garden?
  • What are priorities for the garden’s design and use?
Tip: Participants should be encouraged to consider a broad range of educational applications of the garden, including its application to math, geography, history, language arts, and fine art, as well as science topics such as biology and ecology.

Tip: As the team considers different possibilities, they can begin to identify teaching goals for their garden. These can be compiled on a separate list, which the school garden team will further refine into a formal garden mission statement as the process moves forward. The resulting list of educational goals will guide curricular activities and teacher training sessions, and ultimately connect classroom lessons with the garden.