Sustainable, healthy, hands-on learning? That is one of the many things you will get if you have a school garden. Lately, school gardens have been gaining popularity for being a new alternative to cafeterias and food trucks. School gardens advocate healthy eating habits that will last long after the students have left the school. I believe that each school should have a school garden because they are sustainable, promote healthy eating, and have educational benefits as well.
School gardens are sustainable because they do not have to rely on school cafeterias and food trucks for food. You know where your food comes from and you don’t have to worry about added GMOs or processed, fatty foods. Children learn how to grow plants safely and skills needed to run their own successful gardens. They will produce food for their school and learn how to enjoy gardening and stand up for the environment at the same time. Students acquire the knowledge to become involved with the environment and most adults that gardened as a child live off their own gardens. A study by Gross & Lane in 2002 showed that gardening as a child gives kids a chance for moderate exercise, and exposes kids to healthy foods and positive social interactions that guide them to a lifetime of gardening.
School gardens also promote healthy eating. Multiple studies show that those who know how to grow their own food are more aware of the impacts of fast food and tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. 27.4% of Hawaii’s teens (10-17) were either overweight or obese in 2011. The fact that school cafeterias don’t always have the best choices, serving french fries, hot dogs, and pizza suggest that this number will only rise in the next few years. With a school garden, you can get exercise while being taught lessons. A study by Morris and Zidenberg-Cherr in 2002 states that students are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if their school has a garden. By being in a school garden class, students learn how to grow food for themselves, improve their diet and prepare healthy meals.
School gardens offer educational benefits as well. A study by Habib and Doherty in 2002 shows that “the school garden supports student inquiry, connection to the natural world, and engages students in the process of formulating meaningful questions.” Students who have school garden programs incorporated into their science curriculum score significantly higher on science achievement tests than students who are taught by strictly traditional classroom methods. Students in a school garden program are likely to share what they were learning with family and friends not associated with the school garden program. Garden-based learning can bridge academic subjects and also help students understand why these skills are important and how they can be useful.
Some might think that starting a school garden is too expensive or their school doesn’t have enough funding. That is not the case because there are many grants available for teachers and students looking to start a school garden at their school. Organizations like Whole Kids Foundation, Kid’s Gardening, and Annie’s all have available grants. Check websites like GardenABCs for lists of multiple grants. Grants from these organizations can go up to $25,000, so there is no excuse for saying that there is no way to get funding for your school.
By 2020, 75% of Americans are expected to be overweight or obese. We can reduce this number by implementing school gardens in the regular curriculum. Kids will learn sustainability, healthy eating habits, and get exercise as well. The benefits outweigh any doubts you might have about starting a school garden. With it’s rising popularity, school gardens will soon be in most, if not all, schools across America.