Gardening With Children Is Crucial To The Future Of Our Environment
Children’s fascination with gardens has been canonised throughout the spectrum of English literature. Books like Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and Francis Hodgson Burnet’s The Secret Garden have captured childhood imaginations across generations and cultures. Recently, there has been a burgeoning movement to encourage the growing of gardens in schools across America, the impetus for which has generally come from the direction of the National Gardening Association (NGA).
The NGA was set up in 1973 and prides itself on being a non-profit leader in plant-based education. It has played a crucial role in developing both the personal mind and the environment by educating people on the benefits of growing gardens and highlighting the environmental and therapeutic power of plant life. Through its initiative, the NGA have overseen the establishment of numerous programs, highlighting the opportunities for plant-based education in various public spheres such as schools.
The NGA’s Kid’s Gardening resource is an impressive educational facility, and has helped a large number of children and teachers learn how easy it is to start growing and maintaining a school garden. Gone are the days of planting a few seeds in a pot: today, the NGA runs schemes to provide schools and youth organisations with grants and funding that actively engage kids in gardening and improving their surrounding quality of life. These awards and grants cover a variety of gardening aspects, from the simple Youth Garden Grants to Healthy Sprouts Awards, and the new Wild Oats Gardening with Kids Awards, which will come into place in 2007. This award is somewhat emblematic of the initiative engineered by the NGA, as it aims to reward kids who develop positive attitudes towards fruits and vegetables as a result of growing them themselves.
Along the other activities run by the NGA Kid’s Gardening initiative are various classroom activities on topics as diverse as botany, composting, language and literature connections, as well as science inquiry, the latter of which involves investigations and experiments. The Kids Gardening website also offers a variety of resources for students, teachers and parents, such as an Online Teacher’s Course, a Parent’s Primer and an all-important catalogue of plant diseases and pests. In recent years, the NGA has joined forces with other organisations to help engender the growth of gardening education for children across America; for instance, since early 2002, the Hilton Garden Inn has been working together with the NGA to broaden and diversify education programs within schools. From the success of the NGA, it’s clear that the importance of spreading plant-life education is a vital ingredient not only in making sure that children develop and maintain healthy eating habits, but that they develop environmental awareness from an early age.