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Why School Gardens?

April 18, 2011

The Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) district wellness policy supports many aspects of student wellness that include nutrition, health education, physical activity, social/emotional well-being and family/community partnerships. The impact of learning in a school garden reaches and extends beyond each of these areas. We know that a child‘s health and school attachment affect their school performance. School gardens have the potential to promote bonding between students and strengthen a student‘s feelings of connectedness with their school.

School gardens can be small or large and can fit into many under used spaces on school grounds.

In Albuquerque‘s urban areas, youth are surrounded by cement and asphalt and may not have opportunities to connect with nature. In our society children are increasingly drawn away from their natural habitat by electronic devices. By re-connecting with their innate nature, children learn about the real world and the interrelation of life systems.

When children are drawn again toward nature, their sense of wonder and awe awakens. This interest in biological life cycles transforms into renewed interest in classroom learning. Children who learn by observing nature are better able to protect it as adults. A garden on a school campus provides a dynamic learning environment that engages and excites students.

Learning in a garden naturally promotes a healthy lifestyle. Eating more fruits and vegetables and being physically active are two evidence-based strategies proven to help kids and families maintain a healthy weight and improve overall health.

Gardens are a great way to get children involved in healthy activities.

Gardeners of all ages get excited about pulling up and eating the carrots they have tended for so long; this extends to interest in trying new vegetables and interest in where our food comes from. Involving students in gardening is a promising strategy for increasing their fruit and vegetable intake and positively impacting their food choices.

The popularity of school gardens as an educational outdoor classroom is growing. School garden-based activities promote overall student well-being and have the potential to improve student academic achievement through experiential learning. Lessons come alive in the garden. Garden-based education addresses multiple learning styles and provides a vehicle to help educators meet standards in a hands-on, positive learning environment.

School gardens provide a place to teach and learn a wide range of academic subjects, including:

  • Literacy
  • Math
  • Science
  • History
  • Art
  • Creative writing
  • Health and nutrition

In addition to academic subjects, gardens are an ideal place to teach important social and life skills:

  • Enjoying a hobby (gardening is the number 1 hobby in America)
  • Cooperation, teamwork, sharing
  • Caring for something other than self, nurturance
  • Goal setting
  • Safety
  • Managing disappointment, frustration
  • Connection of self to the larger web of life

School gardens are rich with opportunities to engage parents, community volunteers and agencies in the education of our students. They nurture community spirit, common purpose, and cultural appreciation by building bridges among students, school staff, families, local businesses, and organizations.

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