Children at one elementary school can often be ound outside, as the school garden project teaches kids about healthy choices. Pulling weeds, even playing in the dirt are popular activities, and kids volunteer to come back during the summer to participate as well.
The Garden State – New Jersey – is focusing on education through honoring its nickname with the school garden project.
In South Jersey there are about a dozen schools that have school gardens. Students join with teachers, administrators and volunteers to plan seeds, tend the crops, and harvest fruits and vegetables.
Designed as a way to teach students about where food comes from, the process of growing fresh foods and making healthy choices, many teachers and school administrators have found an additional benefit to the program — complimenting the curriculum in multiple subjects.
“We really try to squeeze every ounce of learning out of our garden as possible,” said Melissa Williams, curriculum supervisor at Elk Township School District.
The school has parent and community volunteers who come in to help the kids with the garden and teach from their own personal gardening experiences. They use the garden to teach history by detailing what crops our first settlers could have grown, math by calculating surface area and the amount of water and sunlight needed, and science by discussing the growth cycles of plants.
The fifth graders who have worked in the garden have also become teachers, going down to the second- or third-grade classrooms to spread their new-found knowledge to the youngest students.
“We promote teamwork through learning,” said Jill Getsinger, a fifth-grade teacher at Aura Elementary School. “This is literally a community that is surrounded by farms, so here they have gotten to know what the farmer actually does, as well as the economic aspect. We tie it into all aspects of learning.”