What is an edible garden? It’s a garden that you (not the birds and snails) can harvest your own fresh, healthy and delicious food from. Why grow one at your school? Well … growing an edible garden with your students is good for:
Student of all ages enjoy digging, watering and harvesting their own food.
Gardening might be something associated with old folks but in reality it’s tough, physical work. There will be digging and lifting and bending and pulling and wheeling and raking and mulching and kneeling. Definitely a full body workout!
Spending time in nature is shown to improve mental health, including reducing stress, increasing creativity and imagination, and building resilience.
Fresh, healthy food
Students will have access to fresh and healthy food. A nature-based diet has been shown to increase feelings of alertness and contentment, and gives all of us more energy. Food gardening offers students the chance to learn about nutrition and supports healthy eating choices.
Appreciation of food growing
By growing, caring for and harvesting food from their garden students will have an understanding of where food comes from, how it is grown and the relationship between food and a healthy natural environment.
“For children without a vegetable patch, or even a fruit tree, there’s little opportunity to observe how food grows. They may only ever see fruit and vegetables at the supermarket where they come neatly packaged, bear little resemblance to the whole plant and may be sold outside the normal growing season” (Fanton and Immig 2007).
Create a class journal
Start a class journal to record your garden research and ideas. Also record what you did, how you did it and how successful you were. You can then pass your journal onto the next class responsible for the care and development of the garden.
Use the fruit and vegetables you harvest for further activities with your students, such as:
Whole school tip
Students of different ages and abilities can be assigned different tasks in the garden or to different parts of the garden.
A mature tree absorbs an average of 267kg over its lifetime (30 years). Each year a tree absorbs 8.9kgs of CO2-3 (267kg divided by 30). These savings are based on planting and looking after one tree. All plants benefit the environment. Plant more, save more!
When you grow your own food you’ll be eating ‘in season’ food. Out-of-season foods (like tomatoes in winter, for instance) have been grown in artificial conditions, or grown far away, picked prematurely and transported long distances to get to your local shops. When we eat foods out of season, we miss out on eating food at its prime: when it tastes best and has a higher nutritional value. Learn more at Sustainable Table.
In Australia, the food supply chain is responsible for approximately 23% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second-highest emissions generating activity after power stations. Learn more at Love Food Hate Waste.
One in two Australian households are already growing their own food, either at home or in community gardens, and families with children who are primary school aged or younger are more likely to be growing their own food! Learn more at The Australia Institute – Grow your own.
Researchers at the University of Illinois have been investigating nature-based activities and their potential for ADHD children. They have found that children with ADHD and ADD concentrate, complete tasks and follow directions better after they play outside in green settings. The greener the settings, the more improvement they show. Learn more at Planet Ark’s Tree Day.