Hey! I Think I Grew This!
Students all across the United States, United Kingdom and even Australia and India, are joining a new trend - organic gardening in school. Their schools have their own gardens in the backyards, where students, under the guidance of their teachers and parent volunteers, grow and cultivate vegetables and fruits, which are used for snacks and sometimes even lunch.
In fact school organic gardens are becoming so popular, that in 2007, when a company called Rocket Gardens in the U.K. (www.rocketgardens.co.uk/dig-for-their-future.asp) offered to set them up for free, they received an unexpected 4,000 applications. Taken by surprise, the company had to scale back their offer, to just 400 schools.
While fun, these organic gardens have an educational side too. Science is an obvious on - students learn how plants grow (biology), how to identify plants (botany) and how insects affect plants (entomology). Budding artists can also be inspired by the garden. Believe it not, even Math can be incorporated, by measuring how tall the plants have become and how much produce they yield. The age-old excuse of 'Where are we going to use this?' is starting to wane, much to the relief of teachers everywhere.
'Kids actually eat more fruit and vegetables when they've grown them themselves', says Abby Jaramillo, director of the school gardening program at Urban Sprouts, a non-profit organization, that helps San Francisco schools set up and maintain gardens, so that students can eat better and connect with the environment and each other.
This is very evident in schools that have successfully been able to incorporate school gardens. Black Horse Hill Junior High in Liverpool, United Kingdom, is a school, where the phrase from field to table is being used quite literally. Cafeteria workers pick from a medley of vegetables, which include cauliflowers, cabbages, onions, potatoes, peas, beans and lettuce and use it to prepare everyone's favorite class - lunch. Harry Kennedy, the head of school says the four-year old program has given students a sense of satisfaction and pride that they are contributing to their lunch.
For the kids at Edna Maguire Elementary School in Mill Valley, CA, the garden is a great sense of pride and joy - Something that sets them apart from the other four elementary schools in the district. Here every class gets to cultivate their own fruit and vegetable patch and a weekly session in the garden with a parent volunteer or teacher is built into the curriculum. Students are used to strolling into the garden to get a 'snack' which can range from a juicy pear to sweet cherry tomatoes, whenever they are hungry. In fact, the garden yields so much produce that the school even holds its own farmers market every Thursday in Spring and Fall, with all donations being used for school programs. The school's annual Ladybug Release, during Earth Week, is a much anticipated event attended by both parents and students.(www.dogonews.com/2008/04/28/school-celebrates-earth-week-by-releasing-ladybugs)
While the National Gardening Association's online registry lists 1,500 school gardens, up from 1,100 a year ago, spokeswoman Barbara Richardson believes that there are thousands more that are not registered. According to a 2002 survey, California alone has over 2,500 school gardens, and the trend has been growing since then.
Does your school have an organic garden? If so tell us about it by adding your comments below.
Sources: chicagotribune.com, urbansprouts.com.