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Benefits of a School Garden

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Educational benefits

Gardening offers hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in a wide array of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, math, language arts and nutrition. The educational benefits of school gardens are clear:

  • School Gardens significantly increase science achievement scores.
-Klemmer, C. D., T. M. Waliczek, and J. M. Zajicek. 2005. Growing minds: The effect of a school gardening program on the science achievement of elementary students. HortTechnology15(3):448-452.

-Smith, L. L., and C. E. Motsenbocker. 2005. Impact of hands-on science through school gardening in Louisiana public elementary schools. HortTechnology 15(3):439-443.

  • Contribute to communication of knowledge and emotions, while developing skills that will help them be more successful in school.

– Miller, D. L. The Seeds of Learning: Young Children Develop Important Skills Through Their Gardening Activities at a Midwestern Early Education Program. Applied Environmental Education & Communication 6(1):49-66.

  • Have a positive impact on student achievement and behavior.

– Blair, D. (2009). The child in the garden: an evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening. Journal of Environmental Education 40(2), 15-38.

Benefits of School Gardening for Teachers,
Schools and Communities

Like a team sport or mascot, gardening can offer a symbolic locus of school pride and spirit. Gardening offers schools a way of helping children to identify with their school and to feel proud of their own individual contribution. Gardening ties students to the social and material history of the land. Gardeners from the community can be brought in to demonstrate local, traditional gardening techniques and the traditional uses of particular plants.

  • School Gardens Improve life skills, including working with groups and self-understanding. 

– Robinson, C.W., and J. M. Zajicek. 2005. Growing minds: the effects of a one-year school garden program on six constructs of life skills of elementary school children. HortTechnology15(3):453-457.

  • School Gardens Improve social skills and behavior.

– DeMarco, L., P. D. Relf, and A. McDaniel. 1999. Integrating gardening into the elementary school curriculum. HortTechnology 9(2):276-281.

  • Instill appreciation and respect for nature that lasts into adulthood. 

– Lohr, V.I. and C.H. Pearson-Mims. 2005. Children’s active and passive interactions with plants influence their attitudes and actions toward trees and gardening as adults. HortTechnology.15(3): 472-476.

Health and Nutrition Benefits of School Gardens

With children’s nutrition under assault by fast food and junk food industries. School gardening offers children opportunities for outdoor exercise while teaching them a useful skill. Gardens containing fruit and vegetables can also help to revise attitudes about particular foods. There is mounting evidence that active learning in less structured, participatory spaces like gardens is more likely to transform children’s food attitudes and habits, and that school gardening, especially when combined with a healthy lunch program or nutritional education, encourages more healthful food choices.

  • Improve nutrition knowledge and vegetable preferences. 

– Morris, JL and Zidenberg-Cherr, S. 2002. Garden-based nutrition curriculum improves fourth-grade school children’s knowledge of nutrition and preferences for some vegetables. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102(1): 91-93.

  • School Gardens Increase fruit and vegetable consumption in adolescents. 

– McAleese, J.D., and L.L. Rankin. 2007. Garden-Based Nutrition Education Affects Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Sixth-Grade Adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association.107 (4): 662-665.

  • Students who participate in school gardens report eating healthier snacks. 

– Koch, S., T. M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek. 2006. The Effect of Summer Garden Program on the Nutritional Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors of Children. HortTechnology 16 (4): 620-625.