Why school gardens?

Within the last two hundred years, there has been a huge population shift from the country to the city. City dwellers are not familiar with the farm origins of their food, and children have fewer opportunities to learn from nature and rural life. Early twentieth century educators became interested in using school gardens to make up for these lost experiences. They valued hands-on learning in the school day, and teaching nurturing and thrifty habits through gardening.

These goals are even more important today. We can teach students to enjoy growing, cooking and eating fresh produce. This will provide them with life-long knowledge that can help to protect them from the current epidemic of child obesity.

To bring the garden into the tightly scheduled school day, garden-based curriculum has been developed for most academic subjects, especially in elementary school. The most obvious connections are to science and nutrition, but gardens are also often used for teaching English, math, art and social science. In secondary school, a garden can be a laboratory for teaching environmental science, horticulture and culinary arts.

A history of the purposes behind school gardening can be found in City Bountiful: A History of Community Gardening in America, by Laura J. Lawson.