Obesity rates among children in the US seem to be at a constant incline. Currently, about 17% of children in America are suffering with obesity which has caused a ripple affect on our youths psychological and physical health. But what can we do to curb unhealthy eating habits that children today are being programmed to follow? Schools across America are tackling this epidemic among children head on by introducing school gardens that not only teach them the benefits of fresh produce, it’s encouraging them to put hard work into better dietary choices that can last for generations.
Benefits Of A School Garden
School gardens are the perfect way to introduce creativity and transform it into sustainability. It encourages them to love nature and all the tiny wildlings that live in it. A child will naturally get a head start on learning about science while staying active and in the fresh air. More importantly, It’s good for their health and wellbeing. Here’s a few other reason why school garden should be in every school:
Traditional classroom activities often involve passive learning as children read aloud and listen to their teachers.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Many children lead sedentary lifestyles and have a limited understanding of the links between exercise, nutrition and lifelong health.
No one can withstand the power of watching something they planted and nurtured grow into an amazing natural wonder. A child will instinctively unlock a creative side while making something organically.
Social and Communicative Skills
By their nature, schools gardens encourage teamwork, individual responsibility and a commitment to success.
School Gardens In The US
How To Start A School Garden
After reading this, you’re probably brainstorming as to how to introduce a school garden initiative in your area. Thankfully, many people have used this checklist to start and implement a school garden at their local school. One of the biggest things to remember is to gather all of your resources before presenting the idea to your desired school. Also check the STEM courses you might already have at your local school. At times, a school may have the resources through STEM Gardening initiative but aren’t fully utilizing the funding.
1. Evaluate Your Available Space
Make sure the site easy and safe for both students and teachers to access. Double check to make sure you have a nearby and dependable water source. Find an area that will allow future expansion/growth. Make sure the site is exposed to sunlight at least 6 hours a day, if planting flowers, herbs and vegetables.
2. Find Resources and Build Partnerships
Forming local partnerships is an excellent way to leverage resources and gain access to needed materials, tools, funding, volunteers and technical assistance.
3. Check the Health of Your Soil
Healthy soil is essential for a successful school garden. It is important to collect soil samples to identify the soil quality of the proposed site. Have your soil tested for pH, nutrients and lead contamination by a soil testing laboratory.
4. Collaborate on the Design
Get the entire community – parents, students, teachers, administrators, food service staff and local partners – involved. Encourage students of every grade to share their ideas and include them. Hold a brainstorming session, collect design concepts and develop one design plan.
5. Selecting Plants
Choose a palette of plants that are safe, low maintenance, desirable in size and form, and suitable to your climate.
6. Build and Use Your Garden
Include the entire school community in the building and planting of the garden. The teamwork will instill a sense of ownership, pride and responsibility among the students. A garden is a great way to connect students to the source of their food.
If you need more info on how to start a garden at your local school, check this video out:
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