GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

Why I Love School Gardens


1.  The kids are all smiling.  They might be naughty too, but they are smiling while slyly tossing a shovel full of dirt at their friend.  Laughter is common.

2.  There’s dirt.  And lots of it.  When I asked one girl what her favorite part about working in the garden: “Getting dirty!!” she said.  And this, I believe, is a much more healthy child attitude to have, in comparison to sitting on one’s butt in front of a video game or t.v.

3.  Intergenerational learning.  We seem to have so few places in our modern world where older, retired people spend time with young people.  School gardens give this kind of relationship a space to grow.

4.  Work.  Sweaty, gross, need a hot shower kind of work that many urban kids do not know about until they join the garden club.  There is nothing like sweating out the frustrations of the day, your annoyances with your siblings, the math test you bombed or the bully who won’t leave you alone.

5.  Connection to food.  No, it doesn’t just appear on your plate when someone serves it to you.  It comes from the Earth, which is why we must take care of it.  School garden kids get to know their food before they ever eat it.

6.  Ingenuity!  Kids come up with the best ideas.  This group is harvesting worm poop from their vermicompost bin, bagging it, and selling it as a fundraiser to get more stuff for their garden.  Brilliant!

7.  Process matters.  When faced with a challenge of overcrowding plants or pests, the adult volunteers and kids have to put their heads together to come up with a solution. 8.  Pride.  There is nothing like the smile and face of pride on a child’s face when they harvest many pounds of sweet potatoes they have been growing, to share with others.

9.  Partnerships.  If you know of a school garden near you, and you have even an hour a week,  I’m sure they would love to have you.  Our Master Gardener group is working on formalized partnerships with school gardens to solidify a constant stream of volunteers and knowledge base that will last far beyond the beetle-eaten broccoli.  I’m super excited to become a part of this.


Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

4 thoughts on “Why I Love School Gardens

  1. Any excuse to get dirty and play outside has always worked on little kids. I wished adults were that easy to engage with. I miss the days when meeting someone new instantly makes them your best friend and gender was no big deal. I guess blogging is like that in a way. Every blogger you meet, you become instant friends, no matter if it’s a male or female blogger.

    • I think with school gardens, because everyone gets a job or task, it facilitates friendships and maybe even friendships that wouldn’t typically occur in the school day, due to “cliques” or other group dynamics.

  2. Many memories from my school days have fade away but I will never forget the first time we sprouted beans in milk cartons by our classroom window. This memory along with the one of sewing our class quilt are moments all kids should have!


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