Gardening While You Learn

As childhood obesity continues its upward trend nationally, schools and community organizations are partnering to find solutions. One such solution is the advent of school gardens to get students outside the classroom and into the great outdoors.

A University of Alabama psychologist, however, wanted more than anecdotal evidence of the various programs’ success. She’s seeking to determine exactly what kind of an impact these projects have on students, both from a health and educational perspective.

“Working with children in the counseling realm, I noticed how much more time they were spending inside with video games, televisions and computers,” says Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, a UA psychologist. “I noticed the same thing with children with ADHD and behavioral difficulties who especially need to move and get outside and engage in more hands-on learning.”

Boxmeyer began researching hands-on, educational models that included outdoor nature components about the time the Druid City Garden Project organization was established. It was a perfect partnership.

The Tuscaloosa nonprofit uses school gardens as a teaching tool, connecting students to their food source and teaching important nutritional information. It’s an effort to halt the rising rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The organization uses a curriculum that ties into the state educational standards for math, science and reading. Weekly, students work in the garden, as well as hold farm stands after school to sell the produce grown.

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