It seems that more and more schools are recognizing the benefits of adding gardens into their curriculums and school spaces. Over the past two years, the number of school gardens has seen tremendous growth. According to an article in the Epoch Times, there were just 45 gardens in public schools two years ago and there are now 230.
Schools like the Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders offer students the opportunity to spend part of their school day outside, tending school gardens, and learning about where food comes from. They get to learn about science, ecology, and horticulture by experiencing it instead of just reading about it in a textbook.
They learn how to bring plants up from seed to harvest. “It’s good because we’re learning how to build stuff and using it for the environment,” said student Patrick Maje while learning how to build compost bins.
“It’s fun, and you benefit from it,” said Kimberly Martes, remembering making kale chips in class, “because we grew kale and we ate it.”
But it’s not always easy to fund projects like gardens when it comes to a school budget. Schools often rely on grants to pay for basic supplies like wood, soil, seeds, and garden tools—many of which do not fund organizations that are not non-profits.
Despite the challenges of garden startup, the initiative is gaining ground in public schools in New York, where parents and educators alike want their kids to be aware of where food comes from and how to be sustainable by creating edible gardens.
Some schools, like the Earth School in Manhattan, even use garden produce in some of their school meals.
Parents at the Earth School were enthusiastic with the school’s new garden opening, suggesting further ideas to pursue, such as beekeeping, a chicken coop, and a weather station. The school intends to keep the project open ended and flexible so that parents, students, and teachers can have a say in what projects might come next.