The Good Food Project's school gardening program is growing. There is a reason for this educational growth. More and more gardens are being recognized for their contribution to the growth of our children, and for creating a culture of health in the community.
There is a growing U.S. movement for the “greening” of schoolyards through gardens at school sites and much enthusiasm for the potential of garden-based learning in promoting healthy youth development. There are multiple rationales for the value of schools gardens, chiefly as outdoor “learning laboratories,” as aesthetically pleasing spaces for children to play, and recently, as places to promote the consumption of fresh produce. (Hedley et al, 2004) Child health and nutrition are also strongly associated with educational achievement. Negative academic and psycho-social outcomes are associated with family-level food insufficiency and provide support to increase food security of American families. (AAP, 2001).
Gardening offers hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in a wide array of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, math, language arts (e.g., through garden journaling), visual arts (e.g., through garden design and decoration), and nutrition. With recent concern over relatively weak science and math skills among American children, the need for innovation in science and math teaching is apparent. There is mounting evidence that students who participate in school gardening score significantly higher on standardized science achievement tests (Klemmer, et.al. 2005). Further research along these lines can be found at Cornell University’s Garden Based Learning website and at the California School Garden Network.