Gardening

What is a School Garden? Eco-friendly school projects

Today there are more and more schools that have school gardens on their premises but… Do we really know what a school garden is ? Today we will talk about what the objectives of school gardens in nursery and primary school should be and how to include the school garden in educational projects.

What is a school garden

A school garden is a space located within an educational center where fruits, vegetables and vegetables, flowers and / or aromatic plants are grown, and where the cultivation activity is used as an educational resource for the learning and physical, mental and social development of the students.

According to FAO, school gardens are a very useful learning platform to improve education and child nutrition ; at the same time that they promote the conservation of the environment and the social, physical and mental well-being of the entire educational community.

In order to obtain all these benefits of school gardens , the main thing is to know what the objectives of the school garden are , so that, knowing them, we can organize with the students the activities that lead us to achieve them.

Objectives of the school garden in nursery, primary and secondary

The main objectives of a school garden should be the following:

  • Improve the autonomy and independence of children and adolescents in carrying out tasks with spatio-temporal planning.
  • Improve teamwork skills .
  • Serve for rest, play and recreation while helping to maintain moderate physical activity very beneficial for the health of children.
  • Improve the quality of teaching through a more dynamic and practical pedagogy.
  • Strengthen theoretical knowledge and practical skills on botany, agriculture and horticulture through the cultivation of various types of plants.
  • Link activity in the school garden, both to games and recreation, as well as to the teaching of science subjects and, in the case of school gardens for children , of other subjects such as mathematics or reading (work in the garden it can be used, for example, to strengthen concepts such as addition and subtraction).
  • Teach about nutrition and organic farming to promote the production and consumption of healthy foods (such as fruits and vegetables) and a healthy lifestyle at home, also increasing families’ access to this information.
  • Increase the nutritional quality of children’s diets and reduce the number of malnourished or undernourished children.
  • Contribute to the sustainability of the planet through environmental awareness , and improve the attitude and knowledge of children regarding natural life, agriculture and rural life.
  • Especially in underdeveloped countries, increase school attendance and, in many households, compensate for the absence of parents in terms of the transfer of knowledge necessary for the vital development of children and young people or to promote income-generating opportunities thanks to cultivation in the fields. homes.
  • In cities, they help to improve the urban environment and the sustainability of cities (capture of greenhouse gases, reduction of the carbon footprint, etc.).

Benefits of school gardens

  • If the food harvested in the ecological school garden is consumed in the center itself, the garden becomes a source of food to improve the children’s diet and their health and, in addition, it implies a lower cost of the diets prepared in the school.
  • It is a place to be in contact and learn about nature and agriculture , something that is very useful especially in schools in large cities where children are not used to being in contact with nature.
  • Source of healthy influences : physical activity, nutritious and healthy snacks, children’s relationship with nature, etc.
  • They raise awareness in children of the environment and of the importance of nutrition-related issues.
  • Physical and mental well-being of children , who take pride in growing their own food while enjoying a relaxing outdoor activity.
  • It encourages children to enjoy many nutritious foods and encourages them and their families to consume a greater variety of foods and greater amounts of vitamins and minerals.
  • They help fight problems related to infant feeding such as obesity or malnutrition.
  • They are beneficial for learning (Confucius already said … “I listen and forget; I see and remember; I do and understand”).
  • They improve children’s intelligence.
  • They promote entrepreneurial skills of students and favor the socioeconomic development of families.
  • They are an important social tool since in them the teamwork of the boys and girls in the class groups takes place, as well as their interaction with teachers, developing values ​​of coexistence, participation and collaboration.

Types of school projects with a garden

There are many types of school gardens … as many as schools. First of all, it is important to know where will be the place to install the school garden . Knowing the space we have will help us decide the type of garden.

For example, it is not the same to have a large piece of land (where you can cultivate on the ground or even install greenhouses ), than to install the school garden on the roof (in which case the best options are the cultivation tables since we would not have natural soil), or to make a school garden in a courtyard (where we could, for example, install a vertical garden ).

In the post on Types of gardens and in the one on Types of culture containers for the urban garden you have more ideas for projects with school gardens.

From Agrohuerto we want to do our bit to promote school gardens and educational projects with plants , and that is why we have shared some experiences in different school gardens. When we were in China we had the opportunity to visit a large school garden in a middle school : the Garden of the Shangzhuang Middle School in Beijing .

In addition, in the article Garden in Nurseries , Álvaro told us about the objectives of the nursery school garden and the activities carried out in the “Green Days” of one of the nurseries he visited.

Educational projects in the school garden

One of the options for doing educational projects in the school garden are recycling workshops.

In the articles on recycling ( How to use recycled materials in the urban garden and Recycle in the garden ) you can find some ideas with recycled materials that can be used in school gardens.

Composting workshops can also be useful and complementary to the theoretical teachings of some science subjects . In these workshops, students can learn how the decomposition of organic matter in the soil works, what composting is, its benefits and how compost is made .

Another school project on the urban garden could be to build a compost bin with pallets . These workshops encourage creativity, spatial vision and teamwork, while promoting actions that respect the environment, such as the separation and reuse of waste in homes.

How to make a school garden

The first thing to do to make a school garden is, as we saw above, decide the location and know the space we have to be able to choose the type of garden.

Then it will be necessary to decide what to grow in the school garden , since the size of the culture containers (if not done directly in the ground) will depend on the types of plants chosen.

It is also important to know if there are water intakes near where the garden will be installed, which will help us choose the most appropriate irrigation system .

Planning the different jobs in the garden (fertilizing, planting in seedbeds, planting the school garden etc.) is the next step to make the project of a school garden .

In the post How to make a garden at home and grow your own food you have more details on how to make a garden step by step.

In addition, FAO published in 2006 a document of more than 200 pages that could be very useful for teachers and those in charge of organizing the school garden. It is titled “Create and Manage a School Garden. A manual for teachers, parents and communities ” and covers the process of creating and managing a school garden from scratch (materials, what plants to grow, etc.), as well as nutritional cards and crop cards for activities with students. (The link to this document can be found in the

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