Step Two: Develop Questions

The Spartan Garden at White Station High School

The students at White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee started the "Spartan Garden" from the ground up. Do you have a school garden in your community? Consider interviewing a teacher about their experience gardening.

Remember, the pre-interview preparation is as important as the interview itself! You will want to do research about your interviewee and topic(s) you would like addressed in the interview. To prepare, jot down a list of questions you would like to ask, such as how they got their start gardening, what they enjoy most about their garden, and how their garden has changed over time. Plan on asking your interviewee at least 10-15 questions.

Tips as you develop your questions:

  • Pick a few themes (such as growing food, childhood and family experiences, or garden design) and develop questions around those themes.
  • Avoid “yes or no” questions. Questions should be open-ended and encourage the interviewee to tell stories. Questions starting with ‘why,’ ‘how,’ or ‘what’ are often useful in teasing out parts of a garden story.

Sample Interview Questions

Growing Up

  • Did you have a garden growing up? What was it like?
  • What are your first memories of gardening?
  • What was your neighborhood or community like? Did your neighbors have gardens?
  • Did your parents or older family members garden when they were children?

Learning to Garden

  • Who taught you how to garden? Share a story about them.
  • Where was your first garden? What did you grow?
  • Did you make any mistakes while learning?
  • What was your first gardening “success”?
  • What advice would you give to a new gardener?

Your Garden

  • When did you plant your current garden?
  • How has the garden changed since you first started it?
  • Where do you spend most of your time in your garden?
  • What do you enjoy most about your garden?
  • What are your future plans for your garden?

Planting and Growing

  • Where do you buy or find your seeds and plants?
  • How do you decide what you are going to grow?
  • Do you have a favorite plant or vegetable in your garden? Why?
  • What is the hardest plant you’ve ever tried to grow?
  • Do you have favorite tricks or tips you have picked up along the way?

Heritage and Immigration

  • Did you grow up in a different country? What gardening traditions have you brought with you?
  • Have you learned anything new about gardening in the United States?
  • Have you shared garden wisdom or tips from your home country with friends and neighbors here?
  • Do you have a family or traditional recipe you like to prepare with ingredients from your garden?
  • How has your heritage influenced your garden?
  • What is different about gardening in the United States?