poetry and prose about place

early schools – school gardens

with 3 comments

It’s gardening time in New Brunswick. While I tend my little tomato plants, I wonder if one room schools in the early 1900s kept school gardens.


Mill Road School, Gagetown 2

Was there once a school garden in the yard of this one room school near Gagetown, New Brunswick?


In the province of Nova Scotia, some schools had gardens. My aunt, Dr. Jane Norman, in her history of Nova Scotia’s schools, tells about the Travelling Teachers program and the ‘Garden Score Card’ (Jane Norman, Loran Arthur DeWolfe and The Reform of Education in Nova Scotia 1891-1959. Truro, Nova Scotia: Atlantic Early Learning Productions, 1989). The Travelling Teachers operated from 1918-1920, bringing knowledge and help to schools in their districts about rural science, including home-making, healthy living and gardening.


In 1918-19, to encourage gardening as part of the school program, the Rural Science Department of the Nova Scotia Normal College (where teachers were trained) donated $10.00 to each Travelling Teachers’ school district. School children and schools who obtained the highest scores on the ‘Garden Score Card’ shared the money as follows:

  • three school children with the highest scores won prizes of $2.50, $1.50 and $1.00
  • three schools with the highest scores won prizes of  $2.50, $1.50 and $1.00


The ‘Garden Score Card’ rated the school gardens and the efforts of the children with the following criteria:

  1. Condition of Garden:
    1. Planting and arrangement of plants (5)
    2. Thinning, training, regularity in row (5)
    3. Cultivation and freedom from weeds (10)
    4. Freedom from diseases and insect pests (10)
    5. General neatness of paths, labels, stakes, etc. (5)
    6. Consideration of adverse conditions, if any (5)
  2. Range of variety in flowers and vegetables (10)
  3. Amount and quality of bloom (flowers) and crop (vegetables) (15)
  4. Amount and value of canning or sales (20)
  5. Showing made at exhibition (15) Total Points (100)


The school children in my drawing are working hard, but based on the ‘Garden Score Card’, they would not have received a prize for their gardening! No stakes, no labels, no regularity in the row.


June 2 2016 'useful knowledge' Jane Tims


How would your gardening efforts be scored??? I would not make good marks on any criterion!


Copyright Jane Tims 2016

3 Responses

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  1. Interesting, very interesting. We were allocated little plots of land in two of my schools (age 8-13). The better the garden from the previous year, the better the allotment the following year. Looking back on it from this vast distance, I remember hating “enforced gardening”. It’s probably why I’ve never done any since. Also, we were often “home for the holidays” when the plants actually came up … so we never saw any real results, except with the early flower gardens.

    Liked by 1 person


    June 6, 2016 at 9:22 am

    • Hi Roger. In Nova Scotia, some parents were concerned that their children were putting our effort on a school garden instead of at home. They worried about the very thing you mention, that all the effort would go to waste because students would be on summer break when the vegetables needed tending. The school gave students credit for working in the garden during summer, but often gardens remained untended. The biggest incentive was the Exhibition, often in September which meant that students remained interested in the fate of the garden after school ended in June. My first garden was on borrowed land with no water source. I used to stop at the lake outside Halifax on my way home from university and fill up a big carboy with water for my thirsty plants! Jane

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      June 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

      • Parts of this comment should be added to your notes. ” … borrowed land with no water source …” sounds like places I have visited in Oaxaca!

        Liked by 1 person


        June 6, 2016 at 12:02 pm

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