Landscaping and Garden

Should gardening be a subject taught in school?

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Gardening is a great way for adults to grow organic fruits and vegetables plus save grocery money throughout the year.

What about teaching the kids about gardening and where the food they eat comes from?

I believe that budgeting should be taught at school because some parents just don’t understand the financial concept of spending less than they earn. If you are a financial nerd like I am you will agree that teaching kids about money from a young age is important.

If the education system could include every day living financial knowledge then maybe we wouldn’t have so many people swimming in consumer debt. Maybe your school does this already but not many do. Basic math isn’t enough.

Why stop there though? 

Why not make school fun and educational at the same time by teaching other basic life skills such as gardening. I’m not talking about teaching kids to be master gardeners just the simple process of growing food from seed.


Gardening when I was a kid


When I went to school although it’s a different system in the UK I can remember between the ages of 6 and 8 planting and growing seeds in school. We used to grow simple things like garden cress and mustard cress in little trays that we would label with our names.

My teachers didn’t necessarily teach us how to grow vegetables in an outdoor garden rather we did it all indoors. Just because you don’t have a garden outside you can still garden in small spaces indoors.

Our gardening pots were left in the classroom on the window ledge and every day you were responsible for watering it and turning it around. When the plants were fully grown we would bring them home to our parents. “Look what I grew mummy” I would happily say.

Yes, I still remember that.

It wasn’t for a particular subject that we grew the plants it was just a kids activity that our teacher planned that year. Not everyone’s plants survived but I specifically remember my teacher saying that it was our responsibility to care for it.

What I learned from the gardening activity was that I was able to grow something on my own but most of all it took a long time. A long time to a kid might be weeks although adult gardeners know that your fruits and veg aren’t going to be ready a week after you plant them.

Today my sister says they participate as a family in a community garden and the children are involved from the beginning to the end. It’s a much more elaborate garden than growing plants indoors when I was a kid but it’s certainly given them a platform to grow with.

There’s not as much space in the UK as there is in Canada so we should be taking advantage of what we have and utilizing it to the fullest capacity.

When I asked my wife about her experiences of gardening as a child she couldn’t remember any type of gardening happening at school.

Her father on the hand was and still what I would consider a master gardener including flowers. He has a massive garden, greenhouse and plenty of fruit trees on his property. I’m not even going to get into the herb garden and flowers he has on the property because he is set up for everything.

Needless to say he believes in growing your own food from seeds because we should know where our food comes from and understand how to grow it.

Most of all he likes to do it as a hobby and to get exercise. He taught my wife so much about gardening and when I asked him about whether he thought kids should be taught gardening at school this was his response.

Kids today are more worried about their video games, cell phones and social media so that tomorrow’s children will lack the simple knowledge of fending for themselves if they had to. We all have to eat and if we don’t know how to grow food by gardening and foraging how else will they appreciate what our lands offer us?


Spring gardening and your kids


Now that the Spring 2015 is around the corner in Canada many gardeners will start their Spring garden using containers from all over the house.

If you have kids this is a great time to get them involved with the process especially if your child’s school doesn’t teach gardening. You’d be surprised to see that your child might actually enjoy learning about growing plants.

If there are Canadian schools who have adopted gardening into the education system it’s pretty hush-hush because I struggled to find any information about it online.

If you think your kids won’t like gardening as it’s too much work don’t be the parents that make up their minds for them. If you try it once or twice and they don’t care for it at least you gave them the knowledge they need to get started if it intrigues them.

Bring your child with you to buy your gardening seeds and have them pick out what they would like to try and grow based on climate and season.

Explain to them what it means when you read the seed packet and how a certain fruit or vegetable needs to be planted and taken care of.

It’s one thing to show your child what to do but it’s another when you allow them the hands on experience along with educating them with what you know.


Gardening and the education system in Canada


Should Canadian schools implement gardening into the curriculum?

Sure… we have to eat so why not teach them how to grow their own food. Hypothetical but you watched the movie “Cast Away“… just saying. You never know what might happen and how these skills might help save your life.

It might be a bit challenging to start gardening at school unless of course your school has a greenhouse where you can grow almost anything year-round.

Some vegetables and fruits may not be ready to harvest until the kids are out for summer but don’t let that stop you as a teacher. There are plenty of herbs and quick growing plants that you can work with.

If space is a concern for an outdoor garden the kids could create their own gardening pots like I did when I was in school and leave them on the window to take care of them.

The teacher could also invite professional gardeners in to speak to the students which would give them an even better knowledge point. I’m sure there would be plenty of organizations that would donate their time to educate kids about gardening.

Another option is to start gardening in the Spring and have volunteers from the class rotate each week to come and water the outdoor garden or indoor plants.

This teaches the children responsibility and they might even treat this as their summer job without pay of course but the experience is valuable. Someone needs to weed the plants so why not allow the kids to learn about weeds, dirt and seasonal changes with-in our climate.

Another perk to kids gardening would be a sense of accomplishment they feel when it’s harvest time and they eat the food they grew.

Gardening also brings the kids together and builds a sense of community with-in the school system. It may also encourage team-building from a young age which will go a long way later in life.

So what benefits would a child get from learning about gardening at school?


Nutrition and Healthy Living


Developing healthy eating habits from a young age is crucial to what happens when the child gets older. Experimenting with different fruits and vegetables might be easier if the child learns to grow them on their own. It’s not only a sense of pride but they want to try what they’ve grown.

Healthy living begins at home and with that I mean eating healthy foods and nutrition education. This is another great reason to start gardening in the schools because teachers can teach the children about how to make better food choices.

Some schools have cooking classes and teach the students about the Canada Food Guide which is great but lets dig a bit deeper into nature and our food sources.


Patience and Team building


Let’s be honest, not many kids have patience in fact they don’t even know what the word means sometimes. Life is chaotic at best for a child because they are naturally inquisitive and want to learn and go, go, go all the time.

I remember my sister-in-law always telling her son that he needs to have patience and now that we have our son I understand why.

Simple, no-fuss easy gardening with kids will not only motivate their team-building spirit if they work in groups but initiate patience to look after the plants and watch them grow.


Financial Understanding


Although kids at a young age don’t pay for everyday expenses gardening will help them to understand just how much work goes into growing certain foods and how it can save you money in the long run.

Don’t assume they will know, teach them.

If we didn’t grow our own herb garden every summer that would cost a fortune in the grocery store. You may find if you take your kids grocery shopping they may just be more alert to the prices of the foods they grow. “Wow look mom it costs x amount to buy these apples”.

If you have a rain barrel and time you can grow just about anything for a fraction of the cost of what you pay at the grocery store and it tastes 100% better.


Exercise/Physical activity


This ties in with the obesity levels and the fact that many of us eat too much. If we can implement daily activity in our lives along with healthy eating it may help us to maintain a healthy weight.

The best part about gardening like cleaning your house or any other indoor/outdoor activities is that it is a great way to get your physical activity in for the day.

If you’ve never gardened before let me tell you that it takes quite a bit out of you physically. Gardening entails planting, watering, weeding and harvesting all of which takes lots of work.

Let your kids be part of your routine.

Get the kids out from in front of the television, put down the video games and shut off Facebook and start getting active outside with your kids.

You may not think that they will benefit but years from now like my wife remembers gardening with her father they will reminisce about that of their parents


Environmental and Nature Education


Environmental education surrounding gardening and growing plants seems to be solely based around planting trees because they “clean the air” we breathe. The dumping of waste products is bad news so recycling is high on the agenda for education.

Though most of the breathable oxygen is generated by plankton blooms, nothing is really discussed about the unassuming organisms in school.

Recycling is only good if the products are actually re-used. There are certain items that our city will not accept in the recycling program because they cannot generate any income from it.

Even though they keep drilling recycling into the children’s heads the truth about what happens to it is not necessarily the same.

Proper education about reducing packaging and consuming less would probably be better. Being more aware of the contributions you make to this world and the consequences of your actions.


Experimenting skills


You may think that there is no room for gardening in the classroom because it can be taught at home and it’s a waste of time. I disagree because just like budgeting not all parents grasp finance so how can they teach their children?

The same applies with gardening so kids are able to grow their own food by teaching these life skills. It’s an endless education loop on a topic that we need to survive as humans.

Even if the education system in Canada isn’t willing to fund a gardening program for the kids at least allowing gardening projects throughout the year is better than nothing at all.

Have your kids participated in any gardening projects at school or do they actively teach gardening to the students?

What about when you were a child can you remember learning about gardening or participating in-school?

Is gardening important to you as a parent to be taught to your children in school?

If you are in the USA please share your thoughts if your child’s school teaches gardening.

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  1. I think that there are many relevant topics that should be touched on in school. Gardening, basic cooking skills, basic sewing skills like how to sew on a button etc. How about learning how to change a flat tire or put on new wiper blades or even how to change the oil in a vehicle? As a kid who grew up on a ranch in rural Saskatchewan I was lucky enough to be taught these at home, but not all were as fortunate. It seems ridiculous that more practical things are not in the curriculum in schools.

  2. It definitely should be taught in schools currently in the US students get it hit or miss depending on whether their particular teacher likes to garden or not….that’s just not fair….it should be something that evolves as they age. I have been saying for years….basic life skills (cooking/gardening/cleaning/finance) should be taught and it should be a requirement to graduate high school. I was so intimated to garden when I started at 19…but I stuck with it…after planting many a bulb upside down I got the knack for it…luckily I got it from my Grandma! Great blog post!

    1. Hi Karen
      From what I read it was more in the USA that gardening was being taught which I thought was great. I don’t think it’s a waste of time at all. It’s a life skill one that should be included with regular class subjects even if it’s just a class project every year. Not everyone is going to graduate and go off to be doctors and engineers but at least let them go with the basic skills to survive in the world. Did you teach your kids about gardening from a young age?

      1. Yes we did teach our children how to garden mostly they just gardened with us. Modeling is so important that being said my kids learned how to cook and clean from us too. However schools taking it a step further would be great because most children don’t learn these skills anymore.

  3. I learned about gardening as a kid helping my mom with her garden and then helping to process those veggies into pickles, relish and such. When I was young the gentleman beside us used to start seeds in a couple of greenhouses he had to sell and at this time of year if my parents couldn’t find me they would ask him if he had seen me…chances were I was in the green house mucking in the dirt helping to plant the seeds. I also had a couple of aunts on Mom’s side that lived on farms so I learned that way as well. I’ve gone on the odd field trip with the kids when mine were in school to farms and such so they do get that sometimes.
    My kids have helped me with my gardens and the younger boy especially enjoys helping in the garden and growing a few things for his own education. His main concern is the chemicals used in growing food and he isn’t a fan of GMO’s. We have had talks about what we could do if we had the room for a big garden. He was thrilled when we realized the birds had planted some black raspberries in the raised bed along the back line!! His brother doesn’t do much with the garden unless he has me handy to tell him what is a weed and what isn’t. He does cut the grass in the summer without being told as does the younger boy. They do any heavy work I need done. My daughter left a couple of aloe vera plants here and a peace lily back when she moved last summer……they are still here. I suspect they may stay here as her living room window now faces north. Oh well….
    If you look over the curriculum documents for Ontario schools you won’t find gardening taught as such but the teachers will work it in as part of a subject on occasion. There might be suggestions in the science documents if you were to look page by page. There are high schools around that have a horticutural program as Dee mentioned. London has one that I know of as they students grow plants for sale and have pots done up and hanging pots done you can buy as well.
    Some schools will have gardens on the grounds. The school my youngest went to had a flower garden for the kids enjoyment and they had compost bins that each class contributed to. Sometimes it is called a Memorial garden for a past student or teacher, or a butterfly garden and such….
    We did have a good laugh as the grandson can be picky about what he eats but he was at my SIL’s place ‘helping’ Uncle Ralph in the garden picking peas…all of a sudden he was eating the peas he had turned his nose up with his Great Uncle!!!! If Uncle Ralph eats it he will….Stinker!!!!

    1. Hi Christine,
      I think that teachers should touch on the subject in the classroom. Like I said to Karen not all kids will go off to be Doctors ,lawyers or even go to College for that matter. If we could rely on parents to teach our kids about finance and gardening we wouldn’t have to worry about the education system but clearly that’s not happening as many kids grow up not even understanding what basic veg and fruits are and how to cook. It’s a pity. Parenting is important but not all parents wanted to be parents nor should they be and should get the opportunity to thrive in a system that we the tax payers pay into.

  4. I agree, more life skills should be taught in school, gardening and cooking

    I agree more life skills should be taught in school, gardening and cooking would be great for kids. I am sure most of them would love it and be very proud of their products
    I started teaching my daughter these skills at home because they are very important to me and I want her to be able to take care of herself well when she is grown
    That is what our blog is about, she loves helping and planning our blogs as well!

    1. Hi Lori,
      If you weren’t knowledgeable in the area of gardening maybe because it wasn’t taught to you would you want the education system in the least to touch on the subject to help your child? I’m pretty sure yes after reading your comment and it should be that way. Education is MORE than just English and History… it’s about LIFE. I’d love to learn more about your blog. Can you email me and maybe we can feature it on CBB. Thanks.

  5. What a great topic!! I am personally working right now with underprivileged schools to get these types of programs into their curriculum. We have a great program call Growing Great here in California. It was started by some Moms in our community that felt the same way you do. There is curriculum on their website, They train volunteers to go into classroom to teach nutrition and gardening. Kids learn where food comes from other than the grocery store!

    1. Hi Shannon,
      Thanks for your feedback as I know you work with children day in and day out. I think it’s great that you are working on getting this into the curriculum. There is NOTHING wrong with this and it should be taught.

  6. I remember my daughter coming home with a plant started in a cup and a wet paper towel so they can see the seed “pop” out of the shell and move up the cup towards the light. The high school that she attend has a horticultural class, so there are opportunities to garden.

    In my house, I can’t have plants in my house because of the 3 cats that live there but I grew up with a garden at my parents house. My job was to step on the onions so that more flavour would go into the bulb and then pull them out when I was told. Many of us kids were responsible for pulling the weeds and flip them upside down so the roots of the weeds would die and of course the main attraction of gardening….harvesting the crop that was planted.

    1. Hi Dee,
      That’s similar to what I did as a child with the cup and the plant at school. Many students go on to be horticulturists and if this is introduced in the schools it’s a way for the kids to know if they enjoy doing it or not.
      I’ve never heard of that about the onions.. is that spring onions or a different kind of onion?
      Yes harvesting is the best part. Even when a child grows up and gets their own place all of this education will come in handy.

      1. I honestly don’t know. What’s a spring onion??

        I remember my mom telling me that I had to go and step on the onions until the green stems were flat. I think there might have been a flower on the stem, but don’t quote me on that. I believe she told me that by me stepping on them, the bulb would get bigger as the stems came back up upright.

  7. I fully agree with this. I feel like certain life skills should be taught in schools. Gardening would be a great skill to show the children, budgeting would be another. I know my parents never taught me the value of budgeting or saving. I had to learn it all the hard way in my early twenties. With the raising cost of education kids should be taught about budgeting, saving, and debt. Children now more then even need to be taught life skills to help them with their futures.

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