Students With School Gardens Have Better Understanding Of Agriculture And Food Sources

1530 words - 6 pages

School gardens are being implemented in elementary, middle, and some high schools around the country to provide a valuable hands-on learning experience for students. The increasing number of food-related problems in today's society, such as obesity, eating disorders, diseases, and a general disconnect from food sources, have contributed to these schools' desire to develop awareness and understanding in coming generations. The schools have been using gardens to bring children closer to the food they eat, by teaching planting, nourishing, harvesting and cooking the food they grow. The gardens also provide an education process by which teachers can teach many other subjects. Overall, research has shown that children whose schools use gardening as part of their curriculum have a better understanding of agricultural and natural ecosystems, a more educated and positive attitude towards the environment, and a more enhanced learning experience in core subjects such as reading, math, and science. At many studied schools, however, it was reported that gardening did not have an effect on the eating habits of children. Although school gardens have been highly successful in schools that use them, there are still challenges these schools must overcome for their gardens to be fully effectual.
One important result of school gardens is students' heightened consciousness of the agricultural and natural processes by which food comes to be available in this country and in the world. The distinction between agricultural processes and natural ones is that humans control agricultural growing while we do not control natural growth. Both types are important for children to be aware of. Children need to understand natural growing processes so they can develop a knowledge of the environment. They should also appreciate agriculture so they will be more directly connected to their very sources of livelihood. Many people have lost touch with the reality of both of these aspects of where their food comes from, partially because well over half of us live in metropolitan areas, where food does not grow and is not grown on a large scale. (Blair, 17)
Children are restricted in their wilderness experiences because of their limited access to rural areas, and are thus removed from a deep knowledge of the ecosystems around them. In addition, “Anonymous prepackaged food arrives at supermarkets from energy-intensive, polluting, and often obesity-promoting industrial food-manufacturing systems. Researchers have estimated that this system consumes 17–20% of American fossil fuel and that 29% of the food is wasted.” (Blair, 18) Much of the food we consume as Americans comes from factories thousands of miles away from where we purchase it, and often we forget this. The massive food production system uses an extreme amount of energy to maintain, encourages unhealthy eating habits, and is almost always entirely anonymous. We rarely meet the people who actually grow or...

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