Often teachers are asked to defend the educational merit of the activities they choose to embark on with their class.

The following articles are here to not only provide some academic background knowledge for the classroom teacher, but to provide scholarly evidence of the benefits to classroom gardening.

With the increase in technology, kids these days are spending more time in front of a screen and less time outside. Richard Louv in The Nature Principle (2012) describes the phenomenon as the nature-deficit disorder.

“The nature-deficit disorder is an atrophied awareness, a diminished ability to find meaning in the life that surrounds us, whatever form it takes (p.11). With the increase in time being spent indoors, kids are losing their awareness for the world outside. They are less in touch with the destruction of the natural habitats of the world and they are less connected to the devastation occurring around them.

 

A community garden, or school garden can be an effective way of having students spend time outside and create a connection to nature. Somerset, Ball, Flett & Geissman (2005) cite some of the benefits of a school-based community garden as improved physical fitness, education/vocational skill development, stress relief, relaxation and improved mental health, improved self-confidence, and personal fulfillment (p.26). Somerset et al. also suggest some motivations for participation in a community garden that arose from a second study based out of New York. These motivations included enjoyment of nature, practice of traditional culture, mental health benefits and exercise (p.26)

 

In the school setting, community gardens provide opportunities for students to spend time outside, engage in practical and experiential learning, learn life skills and sustainability, study science and life through interactions with others, and work in a fun environment. Walter (2013) supports this statement and provides more examples of benefits provided by community gardens. “In addition to helping develop an ecological consciousness, community gardens are also sites which foster health, psychological well-being, self-esteem, personal growth and social engagement (p. 530).

 

Depending on the location of the garden, it could provide opportunities for students to interact with community members and create an even larger sense of community. This is seen in Vancouver. Walter (2013) states, “An integral community garden at the University of British Columbia’s urban farm site in Vancouver, Canada, for example, brings together community elders, elementary students and their teachers to learn how to farm and eat vegetables, and in the process, to foster environmental knowledge and care for the planet” (p. 530). In this case, the community garden can be seen as a tool to bridge the intergenerational gap and fosters a sense of community by providing opportunities for elders to interact and share their knowledge with students.

 

Community gardens can also be a place in which to learn about different aspects of plant life and the organisms necessary for the sustainability of the garden. There are many different types of gardens such as vegetable gardens, herb gardens, flower gardens (which support and encourage pollinators), and gardens of indigenous species of plants.

 

Creating a community garden can be a simple and effective way to get students outside, connecting with nature and each other, while providing many opportunities and skills for sustainable practices in the future. A final hope is that having a community garden will help students foster a relationship with nature and spend more time outside.

 

Resources/Works Cited:

 

Louv, R. (2012). The nature principle: Reconnecting with life in a virtual age. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

 

Walter, P. (2013). Theorising community gardens as pedagogical sites in the food movement. Environmental Education Research, 19(4), 521-539. DOI: 10.0180/13504622.2012.709824

 

Somerset, S., Ball, R., Flett, M. & Geissman, R. (2005). School-based community gardens: Re-establishing healthy relationships with food. Journal of the HEIA, 12(2), 25-33.



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Further Research Articles

Gardening and the Educational Effects

 

Klemmer, Cynthia Davis, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek. "Growing minds: The effect of a school gardening program on the science achievement of elementary students." HortTechnology 15.3 (2005): 448-452.

 

Williams, Dilafruz R., and P. Scott Dixon. "Impact of garden-based learning on academic outcomes in schools synthesis of research between 1990 and 2010." Review of Educational Research (2013): 0034654313475824.


Gardening and the Lasting Effects

 

Lineberger, Sarah E., and Jayne M. Zajicek. "School gardens: Can a hands-on teaching tool affect students' attitudes and behaviors regarding fruit and vegetables?." HortTechnology 10.3 (2000): 593-597.

 

Skelly, Sonja M., and Jayne M. Zajicek. "The effect of an interdisciplinary garden program on the environmental attitudes of elementary school students." HortTechnology 8.4 (1998): 579-583.

 

Gardening and the Impact on Life Skills and Behaviours

 

Blair, Dorothy. "The child in the garden: An evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening." The Journal of Environmental Education 40.2 (2009): 15-38.