Giving Compass’ Take:
• A new study finds that rural school gardens get students back in touch with their food.
• What is the importance of having a garden education when you are young? Why will more children benefit from learning about the value of nutrition?
As technology and supermarkets have made buying food easier and more convenient than ever, researchers believe people are growing more distant from the food they consume.
As knowledge about crops, food production, and healthy eating is lost over generations—a process sociologists call “de-skilling”—some school districts are looking to reconnect children with their food by educating them in a garden setting.
For their new study in Agriculture and Human Values, researchers observed one such “school garden” in a rural Midwestern school district, in which teachers held classes outside in a garden one or two times per month.
Not only was the concept successfully integrated into an otherwise normal public school district, but it also fostered an appreciation for fresh, healthy foods.
“We have lost touch with a lot of basic skills related to food, which raises concerns for the future of food production and the eating habits of our children,” says Mary Hendrickson, an associate professor of rural sociology at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
“We wanted to see if allowing children to ‘taste’ their education in a garden setting could have the potential to reorient them toward environmental and health issues that will only become more important as they grow. This case study showed that the answer is ‘yes.’ The potential is there.”
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.
Read the full article about school gardens by Austin Fitzgerald at Futurity.
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