Food gardens are cultivated areas where food producing plants like vegetables, fruits, and herbs are grown. Research shows that school food gardens have positive impacts on students’ health, behavior, and academic outcomes. They can also build and strengthen relationships within the school and community.
Benefits for students include:
Gaining knowledge about where food comes from and becoming empowered to make positive decisions concerning their own health.
Increasing their preference for and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Learning sustainable food gardening techniques, including knowing the amounts of water, sunlight, soil, and space that plants need; identifying beneficial insects and harmful pests; and harvesting.
Building skills such as how to collaborate and cooperate; be respectful to both people and plants; and be responsible.
Food gardens as outdoor classrooms:
Gardens are a classroom tool for teaching and reinforcing educational objectives. Science and Health are easily taught in the garden with natural connections to life cycles, needs of an organism, ecosystems, germination, composting, active lifestyles, healthy eating, and the scientific method. In other subject areas, Math classes can count and measure in the garden, Art classes can draw still life drawings, and Writing classes can write poetry or letters. For info on how to use the garden as a teaching tool, check out the Using & Teaching page.
Food gardens as a community hub:
Gardens foster community interaction and outreach as parents and communities become involved in volunteer work days, donating materials, potlucks, etc. Some campuses have plots available for neighbors to grow their own food. Growing vegetables has a way of drawing people together and making connections that you never could have predicted!
As you plan your food garden, one thing to keep in mind is to start small and dream big. Check out the Getting Started page to take the next step!