Getting Started

There are no right or wrong ways to approach the design process. Your situation will have its own limitations and opportunities (and we encourage you to view limitations as opportunities to design creatively). Below are the steps we took to begin work on our designs.
D Sharon Pruitt

Step 1. Look around at other edible playground and schoolyard designs. Check out the Gallery and Links, and do your own web searches. Browse different types of garden beds and landscape features, as well as ways people have integrated playgrounds into the natural environment. If you would like to start with something small, check out our project Pods page for ideas. And don't forget how other species can have a beneficial place. For instance a rabbit hutch can be placed above a worm bin, and the finished compost used as a rich fertilizer in the garden, which can then supply carrot tops and other unused parts of vegetables for the rabbits and worms.

Step 2. Make an Idea Cloud. Get a piece of paper or chalkboard and have everyone call out words relating to everything that they want a garden playground to be. They can be concrete nouns, like an apple tree, verbs, like splash or dig, and abstract words like fun and peaceful. The sky is the limit. This exercise, like the next one, is to allow practical inhibitions to be circumvented so that designers can get in touch with their true, empowered selves.

Step 3. Draw your dream garden. Each child gets pencils, crayons and paper to draw a picture of the most perfect garden they can imagine. Changes can be made later to the designs, but they will most likely be minor. If it is a group design, the most popular elements can be identified and voted on after each child is allowed to tell about and explain their drawings.

Step 4. Divide the design into small projects. List everything you need for each element, and research the cost of each item. You may want to choose to install first the elements that can have the greatest effect for the least cost, such as a vegetable or flower bed. This will insure that there will be something to work on right away, that interest will continue and some products even used to raise further funds. Check out our curriculum page for incorporating lessons into the site analysis, design and implementation phases. This will help to integrate and place the more permanent elements to best advantage.

Step 5. Set up a blog or facebook page for each child to document their progress, both for raising funds and  for implementing their designs. This way, their sponsors can keep track of the way their investments are being used and will be more likely to continue their support. It will also help raise further funds. Don't forget to link in with us here, too!