Even though I have yet to be personally involved in one, I think that school gardens contain a lot of potential in the field of education and hope to be able to participate in one with my class when I start teaching. The most obvious benefits are increased availability of and direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which provide schools with healthier and more nutritious food choices. Other benefits, however, include the possibility of building a meaningful interdisciplinary curriculum around nutrition, horticulture, and/or ecology. As students tend the garden and perhaps even get opportunities to cook meals together in the classroom, they can apply and more easily conceptualize important concepts in science and math, and also build a stronger classroom community. In addition, as students care for the school garden, they also learn to consistently take ownership and responsibility.
As more people are realizing the the potential of school gardens, more and more garden initiatives are springing up around the country.The NYC Department of Education recently announced a collaboration between Rachael Ray and Mayor Bloomberg to promote healthy eating in schools, with their efforts including a mini-grant program (grants of $500-$1,000) for schools in need of funds to start a garden. The First Lady has set a goal to eliminate childhood obesity in a generation with her Let’s Move initiative, and has brought in a number of school children from the Washington, DC area to work in the new White House garden.