Garden Learning Engagement

Asking “what should we do?” and then making a decision is something that people, including gardeners, do every day. Deciding what to do involves knowledge about the place, understanding values and goals, and exploring possible impacts of a decision. Socio-ecological “should we” questions (1) explore relationships between humans and the natural world, (2) explore multiple possibilities and how each decision impacts families, communities, and the natural world, (including gardens), and (3) encourages us to make more ethical and accountable decisions within the garden, nature, and social world. “Should We” questions require deliberation and action, even when we are uncertain of the answer.


For every single garden task, gardeners are constantly asking themselves questions. During every season, there are decisions to make — sometimes it seems simple, but often it is more complex than it might seem. There may be several possible answers, about which the gardener must deliberate what could be an ethical solution at this moment, in this season, and in this particular place. This lesson will introduce new gardeners to some common “Should We” questions that more experienced gardeners ask themselves as they navigate the constantly changing garden. By introducing these common “Should We” questions, this lesson will help learners develop a “gardening habit of mind” to help them begin to know what to look for and ask in order to prepare for and respond to changes in the garden.


Connections to family and community gardening knowledges and practices

After the group decides on a practice to focus on, the learners will go home and ask their family and community members how they would answer the “Should We” garden questions that were raised during our time together. Send home the Family Tool so they can write or draw these ideas. You may not receive a Family Tool back from every learner, and that’s ok. Some learners may have had discussions and will share their ideas verbally. Educators can then elicit and incorporate these ideas in LE3 when proposing different methods for answering these “Should We” questions.

Learning Goals

Learners will…

  • Become familiar with 8 common garden practices
  • Find connections between their questions and decisions that gardeners make
  • Understand the role of deliberations within “Should We” questions
  • Use modeling to visualize complex systems in garden tasks

Learning in Places Frameworks to Consider