Yesterday, as I was walking around in my neighborhood, I passed an elementary school near my house with a community garden tucked into the corner next to the soccer fields and thought about how I wished I would’ve had the opportunity to learn about gardening when I was that age. And today, I discovered this AP story on edweek.org about the growing number of gardens in schools across the country, designed to teach kids not only about gardening and biology, but also about nutrition and making healthy eating choices.
As organic foods become more popular, and childhood obesity becomes more of an issue, there’s been a lot of talk about how disconnected people are from food and where it comes from. I know I was surprised last Saturday at a farmer’s market when I saw a bunch of artichokes still on a stem. I had no idea they grew like that. Having gardens at schools seems like a great way to introduce children to vegetables they otherwise might not have the experience to try and also to teach them about the way that different fruits, vegetables, and flowers grow.
That being said, as the article mentioned, it’s somewhat of a challenge to allow students to eat the food that is grown in the gardens, simply because of the procedures that surround approval of school menus. But even if schools can’t incorporate whatever the students grow into their lunch menus, I imagine that the learning experience will still be a valuable one and will help children be more open to making healthy meal choices outside of school. According to the article, participating in the gardening and growing process makes kids more motivated to actually eat their vegetables.
What do you think? Do you think something like this would work in your school? Or does it seem like a low priority considering all the other challenges that schools are facing?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.