How it all began


In 2014

 I attended“No Child Left Inside”

 and several other courses where others had developed their green spaces. I was inspired by what I learned and what they had accomplished.   I had always had a garden growing up and as an adult, and have several large perennial beds at my own home.  I had also been gardening for about 2 years with students on my Occupational Therapy caseload in barrels that were cut in ½ and had been donated, in a back area of our building.  I knew how much my students had enjoyed it and I had other students throughout the building constantly asking if they could join me in my “barrel” garden.   With a strong belief that all children need to have the opportunity to experience the miracles found in nature, and a vision to help make this a reality, I started taking steps toward our journey.  



the beginning of the garden the beginning of the garden
the beginning of the garden the beginning of the garden
kiser garden kiser garden
kiser connect kiser connect
kiser garden kiser garden


The first step was to contact our local park district- Five Rivers Metro Parks (FRMP) to talk with them about what exactly a Green Schoolyard was, and how they could help me develop one. 

Here’s a link on their website to the slide presentation they showed me and our teachers.  It will give you the “quick version” for starting your garden:   I’ll give you a little of the “behind the scenes” version.

The next step was to gather


 teachers and staff who indicated they would be interested in having a school garden, and finding a liaison who would be the contact person between FRMP and the school, host school meetings, oversee grant writing and the funds provided, host classes for others who wanted to have a Green Schoolyard, develop a planning team, coordinate volunteers, students, parents, and community involvement.  I was voted to be the person to fulfill this role.   I believe we had 7 teachers and 1 Speech Pathologist attend the first meeting, so with the approval of our principal, and commitment of staff and students, we got started with the planning process.  


mothers day sale
mothers day sale
mothers day sale

As mentioned before, I am an Occupational Therapy Assistant who had been at this elementary building for about 9 years at this time, so the first thing I did was ask my students on caseload what they would like to see in a school garden.  I found the paper the other day where I had recorded their suggestions….Here are most of them. 


  • a place of their own for peace and quiet  
  • a wrestling ring
  •  a place they could write and draw
  •  a place they could plant seeds and watch them grow into things they could eat 
  •  a place they could learn about “nature things”, 
  • a fishing pond with fish, frogs, and lilly pads, 
  • Lots of big sticks to make houses and places to play
  • and last but not least (I LOVED this one)…a hot tub.  



we tried to incorporate all of these things (except the hot tub and wrestling ring)  We tried to make a small pond, but had to resort to a beautiful water feature with a small pond and fake frogs.  We did do lots of “fake fishing” in it.  Teachers also had students draw up plans/maps for the garden and got them writing about things they wanted to experience in their outdoor learning lab (Thank you, Mrs. Roof, Jackson, and Nies).  Several bulletin boards went up with “garden themes” and hands-on activities students could do in the garden (measuring worms and all kinds of fun stuff).  Teachers started thinking about things they could donate to the garden and planning activities their students could enjoy in the garden. 

During this phase, we had a donation of our first sturdy picnic table which was donated from winning a recycling grant (thank you, Mrs. Marilyn Garber).  Plans for our fifth and sixth graders to paint Minion rain barrels were explored and developed (the students and visitors really like these).

As you can see, lots of planning went into the garden before we even built the first bed.  By the time we did build our first raised bed, we had involved the manager of the cafeteria, our custodian, the lead grounds manager, our art teacher, Ladies from the Garden Club of Dayton,  Five River Metro Parks, and my dear husband (who had to listen to hours upon hours of planning, and ideas). 



lessons from the garden logo