Community Garden Board of Directors…of Kids
In Canada’s guide for how to start a community garden, the first step is to organize a committee. This committee is generally comprised of passionate people who bring special talents and resources to the table. This group may include horticulturalists, florists, landscapers, nutritionists, and carpenters and may even tap into the insights of other professionals in the neighborhood. But what many of these farm-to-table projects neglect to consider, is what kids could bring to the table. Sure, children are invited to delight in the gardens with light duties, but when it comes to decision making they are often left out of the loop.
We encourage you to reconsider this, and give community kids a chance to shine as leaders at the top of the proverbial (and literal) food chain. To get them even more engaged and to teach them about how corporate and organizational hierarchies work (a valuable skill) create a Board of Directors of kids for your community or school garden. They will LOVE this empowering concept because it shows that the adults of the community and/or school have faith in them. Of course, the Kids Board needn’t be in charge of the entire garden. They can be given an adjacent plot to run concurrently with one that grownups get to play in or have a specific set of responsibilities. To get started, the delegation of C-level executive titles along with roles and responsibilities is required. Below is a breakdown of these roles and the most important call to action: make it FUN!
Roles and Responsibilities Required to Create a FUN and Empowering Community/School Garden Board of Directors of Kids
Chief Executive Gardener (CEG)
Age Group: 13-16
Skills Required: A natural born leader who knows when to take charge, but also when to place faith in others. They may be peer leaders in school, but big brothers and sisters also fit this role quite well. They should love outdoor adventures and experiences as they will need to lead by example in the garden through all sorts of weather.
They will promote inclusivity and coordinate with all of the other C-level gardener roles below to ensure that everyone fulfills their duties while having fun. The CEG should also be ready and willing to hop in to help lend a hand should other Board executives be away during spring break and the like.
Chief Operating Gardener (COG)
Age Group: 10-13
Skills Required: They are a Jack or Jill of all trades when it comes to gardening. They are able to work along side earthworms, garden slugs, and snails without getting squeamish.
Hands-on gardening in addition to delegation of more advanced gardening duties (adding manure to soil) to on-site adults if required.
Chief Financial Gardener (COG)
Age Group: 10-12
Skills Required: This is for the kid who tends to tuck away their birthday card money instead of running to the toy and candy store every chance they get.
They’ll be in charge of fundraising campaigns to support community/school garden initiatives. Funds will be allocated to seed, soil, gardening tool purchases and more. This is serious business folks. We’re taking lemonade stands and bake sales!
Chief Technology Gardener (CTG)
Age Group: 13-16
Skills Required: For the kid who is often asked by mom and dad how to reconnect to their own home’s Wifi or update the software on their laptop, which is pretty much all pre-teens these days. It also helps if the have digital (photos and graphics) editing skills.
Set-up the school/community garden’s social media profiles (here’s why it’s important) and work closely with the CMG (below) on a variety of tech initiatives.
Chief Marketing Gardener (CMG)
Age Group: 13-16
Skills Required: Like with the CTG, the CMG must also have digital skills as well as good writing skills. Should also be a good (or developing) pubic speaker and have knack for creativity.
They’ll be in charge of managing (or helping to manage) the community/school garden’s social media. They may also need to be the garden’s spokesperson for PR and media communications should a school’s student newspaper or local network request to run a fun feature on the innovative project.
Chief Creative Gardener (CCG)
Age Group: 8-12 (can be a shared role)
Skills Required: Has a strong and proven background in finger-painting, play-dough sculpting, and decorating sidewalks and driveways with neon chalk.
They’ll be in charge of making the garden look bright and colorful. They will paint fences, and find items that can be repurposed to decorate the garden by beachcombing and joining their parents at yard/garage sales.