Should Kids Be Taught How To Grow Food As Part Of Their Education?

There are a number of reasons living in a city is difficult, but one thing urban dwellers might feel is that they are gradually furthering their contact with nature. People eat salads in restaurants or buy fruit from the grocery store without even once thinking about where it came from and how it grew.

If you do a bit of self-reflection, you might want to ask yourself if that describes you. That might feel disheartening, but also poses the question of whether we should then be giving the next generation the chance to connect back again with nature? And if so, how?

One idea that is being put into practice is teaching young children how to garden in their elementary schools.

An NPR report followed the Eastern Senior High School in Washington D.C. that has a school garden and found that the gardens are really “outdoor classrooms where kids learn valuable lessons — not just about nutrition, but also about science and math, even business skills.”

They even follow a young lady named Roshawn Little as she sells the produce at a farmers market which has “helped her practice her public speaking skills”.

Another advocate for school gardens is French chef Raymond Blanc, who spoke with the Independent and raised a good point of the unhealthy aspect of not growing your own fresh food:

“We have a multi-billion dollar problem with heart disease, diabetes and obesity because of intensive farming and heavily processed food. We could learn to eat carrot soup produced from our gardens.”

Blanc has been lobbying to make outdoor learning compulsory for children aged 7-14, as part of the new cooking curriculum in the U.K. According to the Independent, the chef believes that “learning how to plant a vegetable garden, along with knowledge of the wildlife and bugs which share any garden space, will help combat the obesity crisis.”

Advocates of school gardening cite these health and learning benefits for children as well as a few more, including environmental knowledge: “...experiences in nature provide a basis for further interactions with nature and increase awareness of environmental issues,” says a 2019 study on Biodiverse edible schools.

Advocates also name attention span improvement: The Out Teach organization (formerly REAL School Gardens), mentioned in the NPR report, says that they 94% of their participating teachers say the students are “more engaged” with lessons.

It’s shocking that three-quarters of UK students spend less time outdoors than prison inmates, according to a Guardian report, because they may be missing out on these wonderful benefits.

If you are a parent whose child doesn’t have a school gardening program, yet you are still curious about how it might affect their quality of life, the Better Health Channel has a ton of tips and tricks for gardening with kids. Whether or not these scientific benefits are correct, it is certain that children can have a lot of fun gardening and growing their own food.

Watch the video below to see students at a Dutch school clearly having a blast.

What do you think of this idea? Should children be taught how to garden and grow their own food from an early age or should they spend time on other subjects in school instead? Let us know in the comments below and pass this along to your friends and family with kids!