The Lessons of School Gardens

Autumn is an intern with Earth Day Network's Education Team.

Sadly, most kids these days rarely set foot outside. They might say, “What’s the point, when we have munchies, cable TV, and a computer with Facebook and Youtube?” School gardens give kids a reason to go outside and get much-needed vitamin D, while discovering that maybe it’s not so bad to get their hands a little dirty. Planting school gardens not only shows kids they can grow food right in their own backyards, it teaches them how to do it.

Think for a moment about how eager kids are to eat whatever it is that they make themselves. How do you think they would react if given the chance to eat or cook with plants they’ve grown themselves? They’re more likely to feel comfortable with food they grow themselves and consequently make healthier, fresher food choices both at school and at home.

Planting a garden provides behavioral benefits as well, giving children a sense of responsibility, of caring for other living things and learning how to be patient and resourceful. Students will realize that the well-being of their plants depends upon conserving resources and clean water, making environmental conservation an immediate and personal issue. Studies also support the hypothesis that working in gardens helps alleviate attention deficit disorder and improves test scores.

How could we turn down the opportunity to get kids outside, sneak in their 5 daily fruits and veggies, teach them about Nature, and actually get them excited about part of their school day aside from lunch? Earth Day Network never does, and continues to lead the way to more school gardens, nationwide.