GARDENS CREATE A DYNAMIC ENVIRONMENT SUITABLE FOR LEARNING AT EVERY SCHOOL LEVEL. THEY ARE A POWERFUL TOOL THAT PROVIDES CHILDREN THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE THE NATURAL WORLD. MICHAEL METALLO, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION (NGA), COMMENTED, “KIDS NEED AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE BOOK LEARNING AND TURN IT INTO HANDS-ON LEARNING.”
The NGA is the largest leader in youth gardening programs across the country. It began a program called “A Garden in Every School®” to help children grow through exploring and problem solving. “Teachers find school gardening to be a tremendous vehicle in terms of communicating all types of lessons,” shared Metallo.
ADOPT A SCHOOL GARDEN
As part of the A Garden in Every School program, the Adopt a School Garden (ASG) program allows NGA to connect schools with funding. Each year approximately 1,000 schools are assisted through the ASG program. Approximately 2,500 schools actively participating in gardening are in the school garden registry.
The ASG program makes funding available to schools without means and provides teachers with training and garden-focused curricula. Schools can be adopted through private sponsorship, which is a great way for agencies and people to contribute to their local neighborhoods.
Through the ASG program, schools use gardens to reinforce academics and teach life skills. Students receive valuable lessons through hands-on learning in science, math, health, and nutrition. The gardens help children work together, and they gain a sense of accomplishment. Gardens vary by sponsor and school, and they include everything from vegetables and butterflies to pollinator and reading gardens.
SUBARU-SPONSORED SCHOOL GARDENS
In 2009, Subaru of America Foundation adopted nine schools with environmentally themed gardens that serve middle- to low-income children. All of these gardens had vegetables, which gave the students opportunities for getting their hands dirty and experiencing firsthand not only the pleasures of gardening, but how their efforts tie into the larger picture of caring for their community.
According to Tom Doll, president of Subaru of America Foundation, “The Subaru Adopt a School Garden program is a natural fit for Subaru, given its dedication and commitment to environmental initiatives. Providing our youth with opportunities to explore and learn about the importance of being environmental stewards is a key priority in our philanthropic activities.”
For more information about NGA, visit www.garden.org, and for more information about the ASG program, visit www.garden.org/asg. To find resources for children and school gardening, go to www.kidsgardening.com.