Hi all, as the new school year kicks into gear I would like to introduce you to a great garden guy, Mike Podlesny. See his guest post below, and check out his website as well.
On our Vegetable Gardening Facebook page, I posted the question, Should Vegetable Gardening be Taught in Schools, using a meme titled, Every School Should Teach Gardening, Because Food is Kind of Important. We received some wonderful dialogue from everyone who decided to comment and make their own recommendations and suggestions as to whether or not every school should teach gardening.
School Gardening: What Everyone Agreed on
The one thing that everyone agreed on was, food is important. Not just kind of, but very important. Most people did not take that second part literally as it was thrown in as more of a snarky afterthought. The back and forth dialogue between commenters lead me to do a bit of research on school gardening and whether or not school gardening is or isn’t already playing a role in the lives of school aged children in America already.
School Gardening: What I Was Looking for
During my research on school gardening, I uncovered a number of statistics that were fascinating to me, so I put them into an infographic (shown below), Benefits of School Garden Programs. When I started my research on whether or not every school should or already is teaching gardening, I was looking for two things. First, are schools already teaching gardening, and two, what are the beneficial effects on students that are already engaged in learning gardening in a school setting.
School Gardening: Why It’s Important to Me
As a father of two elementary aged school children, and someone who teaches them how to grow a vegetable garden, why it is important, and the valuable lessons therein, this topic of school gardening, hits both my love for vegetable gardening and for my two boys. While I would like to believe that every parent teaches their children the importance of growing their own food, I can see that just isn’t the case, based on what I see around me in my own community.
source: The Vegetable Gardening Show
School Gardening: My Take on the Statistics
The most surprising statistics that I uncovered was that only a little more than 26% of public schools in America have an active garden for kids and that of all the school gardens most, 91%, are geared towards kids in the 5th grade and younger. You would think that as the kids got older, and are more likely to have a better grasp on why food is important, they would take more of an interest, or at least the teachers would. According to the linked sources (shown below), that is not the case.
What I did like about the statistics that I uncovered, are all of the positive effects gardening has on not only the kids, but the educators as well. They range from eating better, to better class participation, to the positive effects gardening has by incorporating gardening studies into existing programs such as nutrition, health and science.
School Gardening: Source Links
- Healthy Eaters, Strong Minds: What School Gardens Teach Kids
- Educators’ Perspectives Associated with School Garden Programs in Clark County, Nevada: Practices, Resources, Benefits and Barriers.
- 15 Gardening Facts and Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind!
- School Garden Programs are on the Rise in US Public Elementary Schools, but are Less Common in Schools with Economically Disadvantaged Student Populations
This brings me back to the original question. Should gardening be taught in schools? I think it should, based on the statistics of the positive effect it has on school aged children. However, what I don’t want to see is a bunch of money, (see the stat for school garden funding), simply get thrown at a school garden program and hope that it works. I would like to see more of a community/school based partnership, where schools can raise money through local community efforts, and then turn around and put on display to the community exactly what those funds are going towards, such as showing the end results of the positive effects a school garden is having on the children in their own community. If you liked this article and got something from it, please share it with your friends. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Vegetable Gardening Show on YouTube and our Vegetable Gardening Facebook page. Happy gardening!
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About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the host of The Vegetable Gardening Show where he interviews gardening industry experts, and he is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. Don`t forget to link up with Mike on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.