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June 11, 2014

These guidelines address school gardens, which incorporate educational components and involve school staff and students. These Guidelines fit well with the MMSD Wellness Policy which, under Section III (B)(11), states:

  • Sustainable food practices - Educational activities regarding environmentally friendly practices (eg. school gardens, recycling, etc.) shall be included at various times throughout the curriculum when appropriate.

MMSD School Garden Guidelines: In conjunction with the Wellness Policy, MMSD supports existing and future gardens at elementary schools.

1. The PRINCIPAL, as administrative head of their school, is responsible for notifying the Director of Building Services of any new proposed school garden.

2. Building Services must review and endorse the site plan and size/location for any proposed school garden that is forwarded for Superintendent approval. Gardens shall be located to avoid conflicts with snow removal, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and site access.  

3. Capital improvements associated with the garden including water lines, storage sheds and fencing, must be approved by the principal and the Director of Building Services. Funding source is to be provided by the school and sheds must be permitted by the City of Madison.

4. School garden leaders, in consultation with Building Services are responsible for soil testing and notifying Diggers Hotline (1-800-242-8511) before breaking ground. A soil test confirming that the site is appropriate for vegetable gardening is mandatory. A soil test shall be conducted once every three years, upon material expansion of the gardening site, and upon any event that creates a soil-related safety concern. Routine soil testing can be conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madision Soil and Plant Analysis Lab.

5. No school program shall engage in the manufacturing of and/or commercial distribution or sale of any food product derived from a school garden program unless (1) approved by the Superintendent or designee, and (2) necessary regulations have been followed (e.g., use of commercial kitchen equipment for food preparation, as may be applicable).

6. The PRINCIPAL will notify the Director of Building Services of any abandoned school gardens. The School Garden Leader, in partnership with individual school, is responsible for restoration of school gardens that go unused for two years.

7. Ongoing maintenance is the responsibility of the SCHOOL. Funding source must be provided for purchase and delivery of topsoil, mulch, etc. Tilling and weed control is to be performed by the school. 

8. Use of pesticides must be approved by the MMSD Board of Education per Wisconsin State Statute 94.715 Pest Management for Schools:

a. "Pesticide" has the meaning given in s. 94.67 (25), except that "pesticide" does not include a germicide, sanitizer, or disinfectant.

b. Requirements for school boards. A school board shall do all of the following:

i. Authorize pesticide application in a school or on school grounds to be conducted only by persons who are certified in the applicable pesticide use categories under s. 94.705.

ii. Post notice of each pesticide application in a school or on school grounds at the time of the application and for at least 72 hours following the application.

9. Community gardens sited on school property are subject to different standards and approvals (such as mandatory use agreements) and are not intended to be addressed by these guidelines. The MMSD Board of Education must approve community gardens.