Sustain DCSD

March 2015 Newsletter

Planning for Spring!

Springtime is right around the corner! It is time to start planning for gardens and Earth Day all while shoveling all that March snow out of the way. In this issue, you will find info on an upcoming Coffee Hour with Green Up Our Schools and a step-by-step guide for getting your own garden up and running. We'd love to hear what you have planned for Earth Day (April 22). Let us know how we can help you make it the best Earth Day yet!

EVENT CANCELLED! Coffee Hour with Green Up Our Schools

Tuesday, March 17th, 3-6pm

2350 Meadows Boulevard

Castle Rock, CO

Due to scheduling conflicts, this event has been cancelled. There is a Coffee Hour scheduled for Monday, March 23, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Earth Force on Broadway in Denver. For more information, contact Jessica Brown at

Green Up Our Schools is a grant program that supports elementary school waste reduction & recycling programs. Schools accepted into the program receive $2,000 over 3 years and personalized assistance achieving their goals.

How to Start a School Garden

Step 1: Develop your garden vision - start small, but leave room to grow.

  • Make sure you include the principal, as well as teachers, parents, students in developing the vision.
  • How many children/classrooms will participate?
  • Do you want an in-ground or container garden?
  • Do you need a fence?
  • Who will be responsible for maintenance?
  • How will you fund the start-up and long-term process?
  • Who is your garden team?
  • What is the role of parent and community volunteers?

Step 2: Contact the Sustainability Office

  • Courtney will help to develop a plan and explore learning opportunities to support you as you build your garden.

Step 3: Work with the District to determine the site for your garden

  • Contact Jesse Downey at 303-387-0429 or Jesse helps to ensure student learning environments meet or exceed current and projected instructional needs via direct oversight, coordination, and management of building modifications projects to support 21st Century learning. He is the first step to determine the best location and structure for each school garden.
  • Water - close, easy access to water is essential
  • Sunlight - a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight a day is necessary to grow most vegetables and flowers. Check potential sites throughout the day and anticipate seasonal changes in the sun's location. Watch out for shading by nearby trees, buildings, hills, etc.
  • Access - the site should be close to classrooms and easily accessible. If the garden is too far away, it will be difficult to get and keep teachers involved in the garden.
  • Size and type of garden - what type (in-ground or container) of garden fits your site, budget, and people-power?
  • Security - be sure the site is located in an area that will discourage vandalism and minimize damage from playground havoc, dogs, and foot traffic.
  • Longevity - will the site remain available in the foreseeable future?

Step 4: Build your garden.

  • Clear the land
  • Lay out the garden
  • Build the planning beds
  • Soil
  • Soil amendments improve soil structure to improve water retention and absorption, provide good drainage and supply important plant nutrients - you can purchase soil amendments or make your own with compost!
  • Irrigation - there are a variety of options, including hose and nozzle, sprinklers, drip irrigation systems, timers, and so forth. This depends on your budget and the commitment of your team members. We encourage schools to use water off the building. If you use sprinklers, they could break or over water and it could impact your school's entire landscape.
  • Mulch
  • Walkways

Step 5: Plant your Garden

  • Choose the right crops for the right seasons.
  • Follow the directions on your plants/seeds.
  • Find a theme - tie your planting to the GVCs in science, social studies, language arts, and art!

Step 6: Garden Maintenance

  • Have an adult oversee garden maintenance if it is done by students.
  • Assign students to four jobs in the garden - water, groom (weeding), pest control, and report.
  • Celebrate your harvest!

This guide is adapted from My Healthy School.


Sustainability Program "Meeting Space"

Don't forget to use the Sustain DCSD collaborative space on Google Drive called Sustainability Program. If you aren't able to access it, just email us and we will invite you to it. In it, you will find:

  • Open Discussions - This is our meeting space! We want all of you to post your questions, concerns, problems, and solutions in here so that we can learn from each other. There are so many amazing initiatives all around the district, and it will be great to be able to reach out to one another!
  • Eco-Schools - Here is some information on their auditing process.
  • Elementary Schools, High Schools, and Middle Schools - You will find your school name in each of these files. These are meant for you to share photos (make sure you have media releases from all students!), success stories, data, project outlines, anything you want us and other schools to know about your programs.
  • Incentive Program FY 14-15 - This is everything you need to know about this year's Energy, Waste and Consumption, and Behavioral Incentive Program. Be sure to register every year in order to participate.
  • Sustainability Updates - This is where the District Sustainability Team will share updates with you and file our newsletters.
Finally, like Sustain DCSD on Facebook and follow @SustainDCSD on Twitter. We would like to highlight the amazing work you are all doing through social media and this newsletter, so share your stories and pictures and tag us whenever you can. Have a great March!