Posted on: 2 December 2016
Setting up a garden on your school grounds is a great way to enhance learning. Gardening can help children learn leadership and teamwork skills, and it can be used as a tool in every lesson, from maths to art. Being around plants can improve students' wellbeing and lifestyle choices too. However, gardens in urban areas aren't without their problems. Gardens set up in areas that have played host to industrial activity are unfortunately at risk of having contaminated soil. Soil can be polluted with a range of toxic compounds, including arsenic and lead. Given that schools are filled with children and young bodies are more at risk of health concerns, it's important that pollution is prevented at all costs. Here are 3 tips to help you keep your school garden safe for all students to use.
Choose a Safe Spot
The best place to locate your school garden is away from your buildings. Industrial activity like building and painting deposit contaminants into the area that can leach into the soil. If possible, try to choose a location on your school fields. You should also make sure it's a spot with enough space around it to plant hedges as barriers to any stray contaminants coming from nearby vehicles.
Remove Existing Contaminated Soil
Before you begin planting, it's a good idea to check that the existing soil is not already contaminated. You can send a sample to a testing lab to find out the toxin levels in your chosen plot. If the results indicate that the current soil is unsafe, you should contact a contaminated soil removal service to clear away the existing ground so you can get a fresh start. You may want to repeat this process on a regular basis after you begin growing, just in case any new pollutants are introduced to the soil from the surrounding area.
Avoid Root Vegetables
Certain contaminants, such as lead, are absorbed mainly by the roots of plants. These pollutants often stay in the roots, with little to no toxin spreading to the rest of the plant. As a result, root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and onions are all more likely to be contaminated by polluted soil. To reduce chances of students coming into contact with soil contamination, opt to grow fruiting plants instead. These are less likely to be contaminated as their produce is not grown underground. Some interesting fruiting plant choices students might like to grow include tomatoes, chili, and capsicum.Share