School Gardens

What are the benefits and challenges of implementing school garden programs?

School gardens may seem like a recent addition to most school landscapes but they have existed for more than a century across Los Angeles County and the United States. Benefits include improvements in academic performance, nutrition education, obesity prevention, civic engagement, and community enrichment. This chapter examines school gardens’ historical context, their current state in Los Angeles County, and the successes and challenges of these programs.

Research

Research for this segment of the project was largely qualitative in nature, and involved interviews with teachers, volunteers, and parents at public schools. Garden visits took place at schools in:

  • West LA

  • Mid City

  • Alhambra

  • Long Beach

  • Southeast LA

  • Mar Vista

  • Pasadena

Findings

  • Interview subjects felt strongly positive about the academic benefits of school gardens.

  • School administration’s full support is important in order for the school garden project to be truly successful

  • Collaboration with the community is also important.

  • Much of the school garden activity is below the radar.

Recommendations

  • Permanently integrate school garden curricula in schools.

  • Establish full-time paid school garden organizer positions.

  • Take advantage of resources such as UCCE, Garden School Foundation, Life Lab, and California School Garden Network.

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