Garden Learning Engagement

Over time, gardeners learn different ways to address “should we” questions in the gardens. They might learn one way to compost from their neighbor, try a technique their grandmother taught them, and find another way to compost by reading a website. Or, they might have an idea about composting that they just want to experiment with. Gardeners often experiment with one solution, try something new if that does work, or try multiple solutions at once. Sometimes, a gardener may choose to do nothing–but they think through the possible outcomes of doing nothing and/or letting the more-than human world do the gardening for them.


This LE will demonstrate to young or newer gardeners that there are different methods to address something in the garden. As a more experienced garden educator, you can share several methods for the learners to consider when approaching “should we” questions in the garden. For example, you could hold a crash course to learn about saving seeds. Sharing the variables in every garden situation is another way to help learners begin to develop a “gardening habit of mind,” by seeing gardens as complex systems. It is important to be explicit about the thinking patterns of a gardener and how various considerations influence decision making.

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…

  • Understand different methods to use for garden- based decisions
  • Learn how to foster a “garden habit of mind”
  • Develop and use models to visualize decisions
  • Ask questions to elicit deeper reasons for particular decisions

Learning in Places Frameworks to Consider