A school garden, an organic school garden, offers a place to enrich teaching efforts with powerful hands-on activities and experiences that make learning come alive, ideas and concepts come into being. Developing a school garden is not rocket science, neither a “build-it-and-it-will-come” endeavor, but rather an exercise which presents a certain level of complexity and must be “child-generated” in order to be “child-owned”. If children lack ownership, they will lack a sense of stewardship. Sustainability requires stewardship. If the garden is to be used, respected and cared for, then stewardship is the key for the whole community.
The foundation of success is not necessarily in proper construction or sound plant selection. Although these are important dimensions of successful organic gardening, it appears that it is not so much the garden, but rather the garden program and the integrated activities that matter and make the difference, raise the educational added value. Successful (organic) school gardens are built on the foundation of committed people, bearing in mind that although “there might not be a garden in every school, but there is definitely a school in every garden”. “Garden-based Learning” [GBL], within a context of “Inquiry-based Science Education” [IBSE], can be defined simply as a set of instructional strategies that utilize a garden as a teaching and learning tool.
The pedagogy is based on experiential education, which is practiced and applied in the living laboratory of the garden. Moreover, GBL has the potential to enrich basic education in all cultural settings. In cases where it is most effective, GBL is a pedagogy that is used with all children. It has something to contribute to each learning style, and to children at each developmental level. Garden-based learning offers a context for integrated learning. An integrated curriculum is often associated with real-life problems in contrast with a traditional subject–based curriculum. This provides a vehicle for higher order thinking skills as students are challenged to move beyond memorization, to see patterns and relationships and pursue a topic in depth, within a thematic approach. They are engaged in actively and socially constructing and construing knowledge, rather than passively accumulating and accepting information and they also develop analytic and synthetic thinking. At the practical level developing GBL skills raises the importance of (organic) gardening practice, through which children gain firsthand experience with the seed-to-seed cycle, the rhythm and traditions of the harvest, and the taste, touch, and smell of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Proponents of children’s garden programs talk of the multiple developmental benefits that school gardens can have on children namely, emotional, aesthetic, and even spiritual in addition to the more obvious social and intellectual benefits, in a variety of contexts.
Age: All ages