School Garden Power!
By: Jessie Keith
Gardens are powerful teaching tools that feed kids in more ways than one. They get kids outdoors and teach them about healthy eating, science, sustainability, teamwork and mindfulness. School gardens supply students and their communities with fresh, wholesome food for better health. Every school—urban or rural—should have a thriving school garden. That’s why Black Gold has teamed up with the National Gardening Association (NGA) and KidsGardening.org to help put gardens in schools. This effort is also supported by the Today Show’s Carson Daly through the Shine a Light program; Carson has created a Crowdrise fundraiser to help support NGA school gardens. (Click here to donate to Carson’s Crowdrise campaign.)
School gardens work! Research shows that kids who garden eat more fruits and vegetables. Not only do gardens increase accessibility to fresh food, they increase interest. According to 2011 study in the journal Health Promotion Practice, school gardening programs helped middle school-aged students develop more positive attitudes towards vegetables. Similarly, a 2005 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior also showed that school gardens improve students’ preferences for vegetables. These are two of many comparable studies. And ultimately, healthier eating means leaner, healthier kids.
In an age when childhood obesity is epidemic, we must teach kids to eat healthfully as early as possible. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) one in three children in the US suffers from obesity–that’s millions of children whose weight threatens their good health. School gardens are one of many tools that can turn this around. Whether a school creates a salad garden, salsa garden, herb garden or general vegetable smorgasbord, all promote healthy eating while making fresh vegetables more accessible to students. What’s more, gardens get kids outdoors and working together, while learning about plant and animal life cycles, the seasons, and the environment.
So how can you help create quality school garden programs? By volunteering time and donating to organizations dedicated to creating school gardens nationwide, like National Gardening Association and Kids Gardening. (Learn everything you need to know to start a youth garden by clicking here). We at Black Gold and Sun Gro Horticulture are doing our part by providing top-quality soil to make sure NGA school gardens get off to a good start. Truly every successful garden starts from the ground up.
And gardens for kids shouldn’t be limited to schools. Whether small or large, they can make a big impact at home or at any public institution, park or neighborhood. We encourage parents, guardians and other community members to promote gardening with kids anywhere and everywhere. Even a little garden space can produce healthy vegetables, fruits and herbs for good health, learning and enjoyment.
Here are three simple, cheap ways for educators, parents or guardians can share gardening with kids at home or in the schoolyard:
1. Plant a bean tipi playhouse.
2. Pick up a cheap, large pot, a bag of good potting soil, a kid’s watering can and a four pack of mixed Profusion zinnias and a lantana for a quick and easy patio butterfly pot.
3. Dig up a 4′ x 4′ area in a sunny garden, work up the soil, amend with Black Gold Compost, and berm it up into a mound. Buy a packet of pumpkin seeds for dwarf pumpkins, like ‘Baby Bear’, ‘Jack B-Little’ or ‘Mystic Plus’. Then plant three seeds in the berm and water it every few days. By summer, the plants should be flowering and by late summer to fall they should have pumpkins. Your kids will be so excited to have grown their own pumpkins for Halloween!
So, if you have kids and a little space, work up some soil, pick up some plants, grab a shovel and get caught up in the power of gardening!
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