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Benefits of School Gardening (page 2)

— Tampa Bay School Gardening Network
Updated on Mar 27, 2009

Benefits of School Gardening for Teachers, Schools and Communities

Active learning and student engagement

Gardening activities can help to engage students in learning in a way that is more difficult in the classroom. Gardening allows surprises to arise when insects land in the vicinity, when plants are afflicted with mites or fungus, or when the weather surprises everyone and disrupts the plan for the day, for example. These surprises show that nature is in control and they give students immediate and personal reasons for wanting to know the answers to pressing questions.

Student attention and class management

Because of the engaging nature of garden learning, students with attention deficit and other disorders often find it more suitable for their learning styles. Teachers report fewer discipline problems when science is taught in this sort of experiential manner, for example. Teachers develop useful concepts, such as “invisible walls,” to create a sense of boundaries when learning in the garden.

Teachers as gardeners

Teachers themselves also learn useful gardening skills when they incorporate gardening into their lesson plans. These skills can be transferred into their own homes and social networks, thereby benefiting their own health and the health of their families.

Connection to history and the community

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. Gardening offers many opportunities for connecting with local history by incorporating native plants and plants grown during specific historical eras.

School pride

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. Children know which plants they helped to grow, and they feel proud of them. This can improve school spirit and children’s attitudes toward the school.

Sources Consulted

  • California School Garden Network
  • Cornell University’s Garden Based Learning
  • Dobbs, Kathleen, Diane Relf, and Alan McDaniel. 1998. Survey on the needs of elementary education teachers to enhance the use of horticulture or gardening in the classroom. HortTechnology 8(3):370-373.
  • Florida Department of Health
  • Florida Farm Bureau
  • Kiefer, Joseph, & Kemple, Martin. (1999). Stories from our common roots: Strategies for building an ecologically sustainable way of learning. In G.A. Smith & D.R. Williams (Eds.), Ecological education in action. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Klemmer, C.D., Waliczek, T.M. & Zajicek, J.M. (2005). Growing Minds: The Effect of a School Gardening Program on the Science Achievement of Elementary Students. HortTechnology. 15(3): 448-452.)
  • Louv, Richard (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.
  • National Survey of Children’s Health
  • Ozer, Emily (2006). The Effects of School Gardens on Students and Schools: Conceptualization and Considerations for Maximizing Healthy Development. Health Education and Behavior 7.
  • Morris, Jennifer, & Zidenberg-Cherr, Sheri. (2002). Garden-enhanced nutrition curriculum improves fourth-grade school children’s knowledge of nutrition and preferences for some vegetables. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102(1), 9.
  • Skelly, Sonja and Jennifer Bradley. (2000). The importance of school gardens as perceived by Florida elementary school teachers. HortTechnology 10(1):229-231.
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