Knowles Science Teaching Foundation: Food for Thought: Student Perspectives on School Gardens

25/05/2013 5:05
Knowles Science Teaching Foundation: Food for Thought: Student Perspectives on School Gardens: “Has having a school garden helped change your thinking about food and nutrition?”

A great article addressing the myriad benefits of involving children of all ages in centre/school gardening projects and how they dovetail with and in some areas surpass “real” school subjects.

“I had wanted to start a school garden ever since I started teaching at YES Prep North Forest in Houston, Texas, almost three years ago. The neighborhood around our school is a fast food hot spot with few options for healthy eating, and I wanted to give my students an opportunity to see where their food comes from and explore the connections between what they eat and their health. This past fall, we finally did just that. Everything from conducting experiments around plant growth to designing and building the garden has been driven by the students.

While I initially saw the garden as a tool for understanding nutrition and making authentic connections to biology content in the classroom, it has turned out to be so much more. Some of the most valuable moments have been things I did not anticipate or plan for like the real problem-solving that has happened when things weren’t growing well in the fall (which got the students involved in soil-testing, talking to local experts, and Internet research) or the teamwork that happened naturally between students from all five grade levels as they worked on the garden. From small victories like overcoming fears of eating plants like mint right out of the garden (“you can eat that, Miss? Oh my gosh, it tastes like gum!”) to bigger changes affecting the eating habits of whole families, our school garden is slowly changing the way students think about their food.

Our garden now has a thriving native plant section to attract butterflies and pollinators, as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, banana and green peppers, onions, strawberries, eggplant, dill, mint, thyme, lettuce, and basil. Recently, I sat down with a few of my students to discuss how their views on food and gardens have progressed since our project started………..”

Tess Michaels