Gardening: Why It Matters at School
1. Positive Social and Emotional Skills
Elementary students who participate in a one-year gardening program can show a significant increase in self-understanding, increased positive attitudes towards adults, increased interpersonal skills, and increased maturity compared to nonparticipating students.
2. Healthy Eating and Nutrition
Children who grow their own food in a garden are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and tend to prefer these foods, which will greatly benefit their physical and mental development. Additionally, garden programs often include lessons on nutrition, resulting in greater knowledge about how healthy eating provides their body with what it needs in order to function.
3. Science Achievement and Attitude Towards Learning
Students who participate in school gardening activities tend to score significantly higher on science achievement tests than students who had a curriculum without garden experiences. Also, parent involvement increases at schools with gardening programs, which is shown to enhance student achievement.
4. Design Skills and Environmental Stewardship
Young children can participate in formulating designs that make gardens beautiful, and older children can design and create gardens and garden programs with a wide variety of elements and principals. By working in a garden, students express an increased understanding of ecology, interconnections in nature, and responsibility to care for the environment.
5. Lifelong Benefits
Students who engage in garden activities as children are more likely to participate in gardening activities throughout their lives.
Learn more at: Children, Youth and Environments Center for Community Engagement at Colorado University
The Problem at Westminster
My school’s website promotes how “The Westminster Greenhouse is a 2160 square foot structure that features southern exposure for optimal growing conditions and an 800- gallon rainwater collection cistern for watering plants.” While, indeed, the structure is 2160 square feet, there is no successful watering system, the plastic panels leave insulation problems, the flooring is not suitable for lab space, and there is not enough room for storage of tools and materials. This leaves the Westminster Community without a place to garden year-round, lacking a controlled environment for scientific research involving plant life, and unable to successfully encourage gardening and its many benefits.
Design Overview: A New Greenhouse
I hope to renovate the greenhouse on my school’s campus. As previously mentioned, the greenhouse is barely functional and gets little classroom exposure. I hope to transform the greenhouse to a place that invites and intrigues students in the science department and wider school community, teachers, Westminster families, and extra-curricular clubs. These groups of individuals could all greatly benefit from an on campus greenhouse through learning about the natural life cycle of plants, botany, biology, recreation (planting/gardening), and overall encourage the appreciation of nature. I envision constructing the greenhouse with many materials that create a sense of familiarity and are welcoming. Reflective panels will be used on the exterior, reflecting all the trees and other plant life surrounding the building, but allowing light and a clear view to be seen from inside. The internal space will uphold science lab regulations of cleanliness and such, to ensure a safe and productive space for studies and recreation: enough spatial void for people to easily move around, paths that conduct traffic through the area well, several shelves and walls lined with plants to maximize space, aesthetically pleasing, and functional.
Material List/Cost for Renovation
|Shelves and Planting Boxes||K5-XL750 LED Grow Light||Steel Frame||Sink/Plumbing||Soil||Crush n’ Run gravel||Polycarbonate Panels||BLACK+ DECKER Garden Cultivator||Concrete Slabs||Seeds (Misc.)||Ventillation System|
|$2,000- $3,000 roughly||$1246 x 3= $3738||$2.50 per linear foot||$500 roughly||$15 per cubic yard||$860 total||$55 per 8×4 sheet||$84||$90 per cubic yard||$200 per year||$3,000 roughly|
*based off interviews with teachers and staff at Westminster who work with all garden programs
The Current Greenhouse
My Proposed Greenhouse Model (Structure Only)
DIY Greenhouses For Your School
Cut Bottle Mini Greenhouses
Cedar Branch Hoop Greenhouse
Hardware Fencing Hoop Greenhouse
|Cost: $5-$10||Cost: $30-$40||Cost: $100-$200||Cost: $500|
|Time Building: 1 minute||Time Building: 30 minutes||Time Building: 4 hours +||Time Building:6-12 hours|
|Material List:||Material List:||Material List:||Material List:|
Join the “Gardens: A Tool to End Hunger” Movement
I made the Pinterest board “Gardens For Change” in order for students from all over the world to join me in spreading awareness about community gardens and what they can do for us each day. To become a collaborator and editor on the board, comment your Pinterest user name in the comment section, and I will add you. Please upload images that show gardens in your community, gardens that inspire you, information on nutrition, produce you grew, greenhouse projects, or any image that relates to the end hunger movement. All are relevant and crucial in order to spread adequate awareness to a global audience.
For Further Questions Join the Live Talk
If you have any questions regarding my project please click the link below and ask away. I will be available for a live talk on Thursday, April 27th from 5:00-6:00 pm EST, but I will be able to periodically answer all posted questions throughout the weekend if you miss the live talk.
References On Building Greenhouses:
Learn More About Benefits of School Gardens: