As I write this, it’s snowing like crazy in Vermont. It doesn’t seem like a common time to think about school gardens, but anytime is a good time to help kids foster a strong and healthy connection to local food systems and nature. In fact, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about, and planning for, a school or community garden in your area.
Get Kids Outside
Why? You don’t need me to tell you kids are spending far less time outdoors than ever before, about half as much time as their parents did. They are three times more obese than in the 1970s, and addicted to screens, spending up to two hours a day on devices. These stats can be overwhelming and discouraging for parents. But there is something we can do about this new reality.
Child and Nature Network shares a fact sheet of the benefits of gardening on children. They found that students who participate in local gardening have increased socio-emotional health and wellbeing, develop stronger connections to nature and food systems, and increase their environmental behaviors. More benefits for students here:
- develop a lifelong interest in gardening and the outdoors
- grow connections with communities
- increase healthy eating habits
- increase scores on science achievement tests
- increase in pro-environmental attitudes
- can help increase a sense of belonging in special populations
KidsGardening is for Parents, Teachers and Kids
Thankfully, parents and teachers have a resource to facilitate these benefits – KidsGardening. This national organization is an educational resource for parents and teachers who want to begin school or community gardens in their communities. As a leader in gardening education for 35 years, KidsGardening reaches over 90,000 people each month with resources, grants and inspiration in gardening education. Last year, KidsGardening helped 34,000 students get outside and into the garden!
Changing Climates = Changing Gardens
In tending a garden, children learn that even smallest shift in weather can affect growth in their gardens. Increasing droughts, floods and heat waves have changed growing patterns. Also, climate change has affected the nature of pollinators and garden pests. KidsGardening partners with communities and teachers to develop local gardens, giving them the tools, direction and resources to be successful in creating sustainable community gardens for their unique changing climate.
Getting kids outside and involved in gardening is a clear path to environmental stewardship, healthy lifestyles, and community connections. KidsGardening provides the resources to help kids across the country discover the joy of gardening in their own communities.
For the parents of student gardeners, fostering an understanding of clean energy, adapting to current and future climate change, and the importance of strengthening America’s Clean Power Plan, advocates for protecting our kids’ gardens and their future from the impacts of climate change.