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gardening/permaculture curriculum

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Hi, we are (hopefully) buying a small farm soon. Once we move I am wanting to do a semester long unit on permaculture/gardening with the kids, ages 8 and 10 (grades 3 and 5). Bonus points for a unit my 5yo kindy kid will appreciate too. And even more bonus points for Australian books/programs.

So, I am looking for a book, curriculum or course that will run through basic permaculture (preferably) or gardening with my girls. I want it to cover the how to of planning, setting up the garden, planting, harvesting etc. They will each be in charge of their own garden from planning stage through to harvest and food prep/storage. Ideally what I would love is a program that would take them through that entire process step by step. Does this exist? Please tell me the perfect program exists just waiting for us!


I think what I ideally need is a beginners how to on gardening for kids and a kids guide to permaculture. Those 2 will most likely be different resources which is fine. Any suggestions on these? Books? Courses? Curricula?


They will also be designing and building a greenhouse from scratch with dh. Any resources that you can recommend on this topic would be great too.



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I think that you're probably imagining something that just doesn't exist. I'm hoping you're wrong though. Maybe when your kids are older you could make your own! I love this sort of stuff too and in another life I would do a degree in agriculture with a permaculture bent. CLE has a highschool unit on agriculture but that's all that I know of. If I were in your shoes I think that I would probably just use a bunch of library books to get my dc interested in what is coming up.


This is really one area that you can "unschool." All my dc have loved getting their own plot in the garden and some help to prepare their bed. They then do all the watering and harvesting. My 5yo even made his own soup from garden veggies last summer. They've all really enjoyed the giant sunflowers. The heads of these can either become snack food for your family or for the winter chickadees. You can cruise through the seed catalogue together and talk about the merits of each plant. My 5yo is very keenly interested in all this. Make sure to get some flowers to attract pollinators. My oldest dd manages our pathetic little flower garden (our veggie bed is about 1200sq/ft). She collects seeds wherever she can. This year my oldest ds went and dug up some lupines out of a ditch nearby and transplanted it into her garden as a surprise for her. The old seed catalogues around here become beautiful collages through the winter. My dc also like trying to sprout seeds from local wild berries to see if they can get them to grow on our property. We've also transplanted a some of these. Eat some of the weeds together. If you plant lots of herbs they'll probably really enjoy learning which ones are good for what. You can buy some beneficial insects and raise them. We haven't done this but I'd like to. I'd also love to get some red wriggler worm for our compost. The best learning is going to be in the field and if you're lucky they'll love it for the rest of their lives.


Writing all that makes me feel soooo much better about the fact that we never have been able to get into nature journals. :D

Edited by Rose M
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Wow, that's going to be a huge lifestyle change, jumping into a farm, if your family is not even familiar yet with backyard gardening!  :ohmy: Even small scale gardening can be more time-consuming than you'd think -- I often "chicken sit" for my next door neighbor, who has six chickens and eight 4'x12' garden plots in her backyard, and it is a fair amount of work to keep up.


You might start small now and see how it goes for a year or two, and all of you learn a lot through gardening in your backyard and regular volunteering with Community Gardens or Community Greening, or at a local farm, before making such a large scale change... That gives everyone a chance to see who really loves this, and who is going to find this to be a terrible burden/chore -- because gardening and farming is NOT everyone's cup of tea, and having a reluctant gardener/farmer child can be a real drag on everyone else... Just a thought!


re: plans for a green house

For a full-size green house, one of the cheapest routes that would also be easy for children to manage would be to use pvc pipe and plastic sheeting. There are free DIY plans online for various sizes and shapes -- see here. Also: here is one, and here is another. You might also consider starting smaller by building a smaller, collapsible A-frame, or a portable cold frame --

made of pvc pipe and plastic sheeting


re: permaculture

For permaculture resources for children, try starting with the resource list from the Institute of Permaculture Education for Children website.


re: gardening curriculum

For a gardening starter book, you might browse the table of contents and sample pages of Square Foot Gardening With Kids (Bartholomew) to see if that is what you're looking for. His methods are a GREAT gentle, small space starting technique.


Here are several more kids and gardening resources -- the first one is probably closest to what you're looking for:

Burpee Seed Company: I Can Grow -- online free pdf "booklet" children's gardening guide

Junior Master Gardener -- purchase-able materials

Kids Gardening website -- has links for curriculum and lesson plans

Grow For It website -- classroom curriculum materials on various topics, and some additional units


re: cooking your gardening produce

The Kew Garden's Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat! (by Archer)

The Children's Kitchen Garden: A book of Gardening, Cooking, and Learning (Brennan)


re: Australian resources

The Farm Table -- Australian youth in agriculture organization (looks like high school ages)



We had a two tiny (4'x12') backyard gardens for years when DSs were younger, and they loved helping to plant seeds, and especially harvest/eat straight out of the garden. We used the square-foot method, so never any weeding. We live in a hot climate, so our big issue was having to use shade cloth to keep plants from frying in summer (rather than freezing in winter). Bugs are a big problem -- they do seem to find your garden FAST, so you'll want to learn all about what to expect, what to look for, and how to control pests.


Happy growing! And good luck! Warmest regards, Lori D.


Edited by Lori D.
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Thanks Lori, some of those look like what I am looking for.


The kids are familiar with gardening, we have always had large gardens before this current house. The difference is that before they have always helped out in an established garden with their daddy, this time around they will be starting completely from scratch with their own garden bed each to look after. So they have never planned the garden beds, prepared the soil and worked out what to plant, when and where on their own, they have just helped. We will have other garden beds too and they will be able to observe their father doing the rest but I am wanting them to have a completely independent project. They will even build the raised beds themselves (well the 8 and 10yo's will, the 5yo maybe not...)


And yes it is going to be a huge lifestyle change, until 10 months ago we have always lived in a city. We are currently in a small country town but looking to be on our own farm and being as self sufficient as possible asap. We are all really excited and have heaps of plans. We just need to get the bank to come to the party (we are close, so close to affording what we want) and to find the right place, we have been house hunting for 6 months now.

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He also read...umm let's see...


Gaia's garden was his favorite. I just listened to the permies podcasts about it lol



The resilient gardener


Seed to seed


Do you know about the Homesteading for beginners DVDs? They are lovely...a family going about their homesteady business.

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Normally I'd suggest the 4-H gardening curriculum, http://www.4-hmall.org/Category/environment-outdoor-gardening.aspx, but that's probably not available in Australia.  I like the Resilient Gardener, The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, Seed to Seed, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, and Sepp Holzer's Permaculture.  

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