Students with School Gardens Have Better Understanding of Agriculture and Food Sources

Students with School Gardens Have Better Understanding of Agriculture and Food Sources

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School gardens are being implemented in elementary, middle, and some high schools around the country to provide a valuable hands-on learning experience for students. The increasing number of food-related problems in today's society, such as obesity, eating disorders, diseases, and a general disconnect from food sources, have contributed to these schools' desire to develop awareness and understanding in coming generations. The schools have been using gardens to bring children closer to the food they eat, by teaching planting, nourishing, harvesting and cooking the food they grow. The gardens also provide an education process by which teachers can teach many other subjects. Overall, research has shown that children whose schools use gardening as part of their curriculum have a better understanding of agricultural and natural ecosystems, a more educated and positive attitude towards the environment, and a more enhanced learning experience in core subjects such as reading, math, and science. At many studied schools, however, it was reported that gardening did not have an effect on the eating habits of children. Although school gardens have been highly successful in schools that use them, there are still challenges these schools must overcome for their gardens to be fully effectual.
One important result of school gardens is students' heightened consciousness of the agricultural and natural processes by which food comes to be available in this country and in the world. The distinction between agricultural processes and natural ones is that humans control agricultural growing while we do not control natural growth. Both types are important for children to be aware of. Children need to understand natural growing processes so th...


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...t, funding, and goals, school gardens can be poorly maintained or forgotten. Also, they may not be serving as educational tools unless teachers and administrators provide adequate instruction corresponding to the experiential learning. Without a form of guidance through their gardening observations, students may gain a sense of connection to the environment but they most likely will not develop a deep understanding of natural processes, healthy eating habits, and sustainable community agriculture. From the research, it seems a combination of both direct student experience and teacher instruction is necessary to achieve personal results as well as educational results in students. Neither can be fully effective without the other, but a balance of the two could change students' outlook on food, nutrition, and academics towards a more interconnected view of the world.

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