University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Wendy's Wanderings

Back to School (Garden) Time

September 10, 2015

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteers that work with school gardens have a special place in my heart.  It takes a huge amount of planning, planting, and heart to work with students and teachers in their school gardens, but payoffs are more than worth it. I have volunteered my time at school gardens over the last 10 years. I understand just how much hard work and fun it can be helping young gardeners nurture a love of growing their own food.

One thing I know for sure about gardening with kids is you never know how far your garden teaching will carry them.  It may stimulate a love of science, give them a hobby later in life, or even spur them on to pursue a career in horticulture.  What I hope happens in that garden though, is that students connect more personally with the natural world and their place in it. I hope they carry that connection with them for the rest of their lives.

Many teachers and MG volunteers report that students that garden love to eat the food that they grow. Students that would never give a green bean or broccoli a second thought will gobble it up if they grew it.  Will this help students to make healthier choices when it comes to meal times or snacks? Recent studies¹ report students are more likely to try eating vegetables they have grown themselves and to ask for them at home.

For the Florida Master Gardeners returning to their school gardens, may you have bountiful gardens and excited students to share your gardening knowledge with.  Tomorrow I start work at a new school garden, this time with high school students. This will be a new age group for me so if you have any advice be sure to share it with me. 

-- Wendy Wilber

     ¹Morris, J. L., Neustadter, A., & Zidenberg-Cherr, S. (2001). "First-grade gardeners more likely to taste vegetables." California Agriculture, 55(1), 43-46

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