Danelle Cutting: Kids can learn so much by gardening

Published 12:05 am Friday, May 22, 2015

By Danelle Cutting

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Every day brings a new adventure to Cooperative Extension. There are many aspects of my job that are enjoyable, especially this time of year, but I am constantly working late and out of the office. But, it is all worth it in the end when I see the final results.

One of those great moments comes from working with children in their school gardens. This past Monday, I had the pleasure of helping start a new garden at Morgan Elementary with the pre-kindergarten classes of Kerry Gardner and Charlene Childers.

Some people ask, “Why on earth would a school want to do a garden? “What I say back usually converts the skeptics. Gardening is a real world experience for the youth; you can take almost any subject and relate it to gardening and agriculture.

Students learn literacy by creating garden journals and writing about their experience in the garden. Youth can also learn math skills by determining how much soil a raised bed needs or how much growth the plants they are observing get by the end of the growing season.

Science is used every day in the gardens, whether learning parts of plants, soil science, weather forecasting or soil moisture. You can even include history in the school garden curriculum by telling how agriculture has evolved over the years. Just about every subject can be taught using a garden. The best part is that the students do not even realize they are learning.

You may ask how or what does a pre-K class learn from this? That is easy. You can take a survey of the class by asking them to draw what they have learned (take a before gardening class drawing and an after class or season drawing). You would be amazed at what each and every student learned.

Surprisingly enough, I have never had a problem with a child not wanting to participate in gardening. If anything, it is the adults who do not want to go outside. However, I have been blessed by getting to work with teachers who love the gardens and the true results of their dedication.

A challenge to my readers is that if you are a garden enthusiast or even if you are just interested in gardening, be sure to include the youth in your lives. They are our future, and we will depend on them.

Within the next 35 years, we will need to supply food to 9.2 billion people, and we currently do not have enough food production to do that. So, get out there and start your own raised beds, small gardens and container gardens. Test out your green thumb with your mini’s “future” green thumb; I know you will all enjoy it more than you could imagine.

For more information on gardening, gardening with youth or starting a school garden, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.