In recent years, schools have been starting their very own farms or gardens in hopes of educating their students about things such as nutrition, learning about where their food comes from, and how important our environment is. Although not all schools have the space or resources to begin a campus wide school farm, even having a planter bed where kids from each grade could plant their own herbs, fruits, and veggies would be beneficial. This is a wonderful way to bring students together and gives them endless opportunities to engage in school activities outside of the classroom. It will also encourage students to learn through hands-on activities instead of observing others or watching video tutorials.
The Importance of Teaching Nutrition to Kids
Due to the fact that nutrition is not taught to kids at a young age, that means there are a lot of students who do not consume enough fruits, veggies, and proteins in their meals since they do not know what makes up a balanced meal. The American Federation of Teachers explains that through school farms or farm to school programs, students will be able to learn about alternate food options that are healthier and begin to consume more fresh produce instead of junk food both at home and at school (2015). In addition to that, gardening at school can show students upfront about all the time, energy, and resources involved in growing their own food.
A Successful School Farm
Magic Years International School in Bangkok, Thailand is an example of a school that has created a successful school farm. Magic Years states on their website that their school farm had the ability to meaningfully impact their students’ development by helping them become more compassionate and reflective human beings. On their website, they list several benefits of their school farm, two of which includes the promotion of scientific discovery and enhancing the literacy & language skills of their students. While students were on the farm, they were able to learn valuable lessons about the various processes and systems that occur in nature. Students were also encouraged to use the scientific method to figure out how to care for the plants and animals properly by knowing what they needed to thrive. On the other hand, students were also exposed to different vocabulary terms which are often used on a farm. They were introduced to various plant and animal names, which helps them improve their literacy and language skills.
Helping Children Become Socially Aware of Key Issues
Teaching young kids about food and society will give them the chance to understand how agriculture has an impact on the health of their community (Actions for Healthy Kids, 2019). By educating them about agriculture, it will make them socially aware about environmental issues that directly affect agriculture, such as sustainability, climate change, deforestation, and waste. It is important to inform children about these issues since that can inspire them to take steps to become more eco friendly and keep our planet healthy.
The first image below shows a balanced school lunch meal from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It also provides statistics about how school meals have the ability to encourage kids to grow up healthily. The second image shows a teacher planting some herbs in a school garden with a young student.
Farm-to-school. (2015). American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.aft.org/childrens-health/nutrition/farm-school
Farm to School. (2019). Action for Healthy Kids. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/activity/farm-to-school/
6 Highly Impactful Benefits of Our School Farm. (2018, December 3). Magic Years International School. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from http://magicyears.ac.th/news/6-highly-impactful-benefits-of-our-school-farm/