Danelle Cutting column: Learning from gardening

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2014

Working with the youth in this county has been very rewarding. It has been enjoyable watching the children learn about gardening and agriculture.

Many people think that agriculture is just about raising plants and animals. They don’t realize that math, literacy, history and science are also vital to agriculture. This past Monday, we had a Christmas gardening celebration at Millbridge Elementary, and I am sharing some of what the youth have learned.

Since beginning the school gardens, it has been important to show the children how math, literacy, history and science relate to agriculture and more specifically, gardening, without them realizing that we were teaching them those skills.

Some of the ways we incorporated math was by counting the number of plants we have grown and how many carrots we have harvested. Providing the youth with word problems using the gardens as the subject has worked miracles. For example, I asked the students to figure out how much soil to place in a raised bed. It was not hard for them, being given the length, width and depth.

Literacy is just as important. That’s why I have had the children keep a journal. Having youth keep a gardening journal can help increase their vocabulary and identification skills. It is also a great way to see what the children have learned.

Since most of the children are using iPads now, I asked them to also include high quality photos of the gardens. Teaching them how to properly take photos can also increase their identification skills.

Science is the easiest subject to teach while gardening. This is because the children are getting to see their seeds and plants grow. They also learned about soil and what it’s composed of, how weather can benefit or hinder growing conditions, and how using low tunnels can extend the growing seasons.

That is just a small portion of what gardening can teach. For our Christmas celebration, we made seed cards and seed ornaments that they can plant later on, as well as wildlife food ornaments for the trees and shrubs around the school.

Gardening is part of our history and future. When statistics are showing that the world population will be 9.2 billion by the year 2050, our youth need to know where their food is coming from and how to grow it themselves.

The youth at Millbridge have enjoyed their gardening experiences. If you are ever in that area, you should stop by and see what they’ve been up to. Be sure to look at the low tunnels, Christmas trees with wildlife ornaments, and the strawberries growing in the raised beds.

If you would like to learn more about gardening, contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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