Headlines have called dirt the new Prozac. We dig it! Educators, parents and community members that have read studies that show how working in soil makes people more relaxed and happy – and possibly smarter – might want to get students involved in gardening projects. For those planning projects for the upcoming school year, take inspiration from this schoolyard community garden. Where last year stood a parking lot, this year grows a bumper crop of veggies and keen minds.

A depaved parking lot serves as a preschool garden.

Most striking about this school garden is the hand-made signs that the kids made to identify the crops. Most have illustrations and color. The occasional backwards “Y” or the “watermelon” sign stretching onto 3 sheets of paper makes them even more endearing.

Kid-made signs add cute color and extend the garden teaching into the classroom.

Why not take 3 signs to write "watermelon"?

To the side is a nice gathering area with natural stump/logs for meetings and lessons.

Stumps to the side of the garden create a nice meeting space for kids.

The layout of the garden uses keyhole gardening principles – basically loops so that you can access many different parts of the garden from different entry points.

Keyhole garden layout at a school garden allows access to multiple beds from one space.

The concept of companion planting is employed, putting plants that grow well together next to each other, like basil and tomatoes.

Companion planting in a school garden with homemade signs.

In addition, after noticing that hummingbirds were attracted to the nasturtiums, they placed a mini-hummingbird feeder above the flowers to encourage more visits.

After noticing hummingbirds attracted to the nasturtiums, they installed a small hummingbird feeder to encourage these welcome visitors.

One section has a series of triangle-shaped mounds that have the squash. It’s not hard to imagine the squash sprawling all over into the adjacent empty spaces throughout the summer.

Triangle raised bed mounds for melons.

Robust squash plants will sprawl every which way.