As technology and supermarkets have made buying food easier and more convenient than ever, people are increasingly losing interest in learning about crops, food production, and healthy eating.
Now, to reconnect children with food and promote healthy learning, some school districts have integrated gardening classes into their curriculum. At least, that’s what researchers have observed in a new study in a rural Midwestern school district, where kids are learning basic skills related to food production and eating habits in their “school garden”.
The idea of school gardens is not new, but the vast majority of these programs have occurred in wealthy urban settings. In this case, however, the school garden was in a school district not particularly wealthy, allowing researchers to study the program’s impact on a broader socioeconomic range.
Beginning as an after-school club led by volunteers, the program eventually transitioned to the control of the school district. The district incorporated it into the school day an average of one or two times per month when students would attend classes outside surrounded by fruits and vegetables.
After carefully studying the effects of the newly incorporated discipline, the researchers have discovered that the school garden education affected the children beyond the classroom, with students expecting healthier options on the school’s salad bar and even starting their own gardens at home.
The findings present a strong case for the potential of such school gardens, and hopefully, other school districts across the country will soon follow suit and give their children a chance to change the food culture for themselves and their communities.