Benefits of Starting Your Own School Garden
School gardens are more popular now than ever—and it’s easy to see why. Creating gardens gives students a multisensory experience while they learn about various subjects like conservation, biology, nutrition, and environmental stewardship.
Students get to put their hands in cool soil, dig through the rich earth, smell aromatic plants, and taste the literal fruits of their labor. A garden is one of those unique school projects that integrates multiple lessons.
But a garden doesn’t only serve to educate, it also carries some ancillary benefits that impact health, mental well-being, and social interaction. Read on to find out how a school garden can help your students have a fun, hands-on learning experience while improving their mental and physical health as well.
Environmental Benefits of Gardening
The plants you grow improve the air quality, removing carbon dioxide from the air creating oxygen through photosynthesis. Your students will be able to see first-hand the process that creates the air that we breathe.
When you grow food in a school garden it reduces the “food miles.” Food miles are the distance food travels from the time its produced until it reaches the consumer. Gardening saves on the fossil fuels and energy used to transport the fruits and vegetables to their destination and reduces the number of trucks on the road that ship food to the grocery stores.
When you start your own school garden, you’ll have a great reason to start a compost bin as well. Composting gives you the opportunity to take food scraps and other biodegradable items that would otherwise take up space in the landfill and turn them into the rich nutrients your plants will need and gives your students an opportunity for some educational synergy. Seeing the connection between compost, the garden, and the general environmental benefits of both will make the lessons really resonate with them.
Fighting Obesity with Fresh Foods and Exercise
Approximately 18.5 percent of children are considered obese. Obesity puts kids at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. It’s more important now than ever for children to have access to the healthy foods that a school garden provides. Spending time in the garden can equate to supplemental exercise time for students. Outdoor gardening provides lots of different types of exercise: endurance, flexibility, balance, and strength. This includes lifting heavy soil bags, digging rocks out of the ground, transporting water, and lots of bending and walking. Plus, more time in the garden means less screen time and more getting outside and moving around.
Gardening acts as a relaxation activity. It has been shown to have significant effects on mental well-being as it can reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and bring about a general sense of enjoyment. In cases where community gardens have been created, they’ve even been shown to strengthen family bonds.
How to Create Your School Garden
School gardens can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be, but there are a few rules of thumb that apply regardless of what level of garden you create. Our “Grow Local at Your School” article can help you get started.
If you want to go the extra mile you could create a rain barrel. Using a rain barrel helps prevent soil erosion by capturing the rain before it hits the soil when there is significant rainfall. It also collects the natural rain water which you can use on your plants which they prefer. You can watch our video on building a rain barrel to get started. Learn more by downloading our guide to Rainwater Harvesting with Rain Barrels or order free copies for your school.