Food Gardening in Schools
by Michael Levenston
From School Garden Guidelines, City Farmer, 1988
(C)Copyright: City Farmer
A recent North American survey concluded that 78% of Kindergarten to Grade 8 teachers already garden at home. Most British Columbia teachers possess the skills needed to set up either a container or raised bed garden in the playground, or a light table unit in the classroom.
There are over 1100 elementary schools in B.C. and over 290,000 children enrolled in these schools. Creating school gardens and giving students the opportunity to produce and eat fresh vegetables and fruit will ensure that all students are aware of nutritious food.
Asian development planners use school gardens to supplement ricebox lunches. They have found that a one-half cup portion of vegetables from one garden can provide significant amounts of a child's recommended daily intake of iron and vitamins A and C.
The school garden is an excellent aid for teaching not only nutrition, but also the life sciences, environmental studies, current issues such as agriculture and food supply, reading, writing, language skills and math. A school garden demands activity-based learning.
Successful garden programs already exist in many cities in the United States. In Hartford, Connecticut, for example, indoor growing frames are now being used in every elementary and secondary school. California's Life Lab Program is presently cultivating outdoor gardens in over sixty schools. On standardized science achievement tests given six months after participating in Life Lab, students scored "significantly greater gains", compared to a comparable group involved in traditional science instruction.
One hundred years ago most Canadian children were part of the rural farming population. They ate well and were aware of where their food came from because they helped produce it.
Today with over seventy-five percent of Canadians living in cities this is not the case. However, by creating school gardens it is possible to once again show children the fundamental connection between plants and fresh food that will in turn lead them to pursue a healthy diet.
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