Several recent studies by prominent research groups demonstrate that school gardens create learning outcomes in both the garden as well as in the wider context of education. School gardens like the one at Tustin Memorial Academy promote development of independent learning and citizenship skills.
The Royal Horticultural Society, in partnership with the National Foundation for Educational Research conducted a one-year study, which revealed that school-based gardening generated many beneficial outcomes for students.
The study revealed the following findings:
Ø Greater scientific knowledge and greater understanding for students;
Ø Enhanced literacy and numeracy, including greater verbal skills;
Ø Increased awareness of the seasons and understanding of food production;
Ø Increased confidence, resilience and self-esteem;
Ø Development of physical skills, including fine motor skills;
Ø Development of a sense of responsibility;
Ø Positive attitudes toward healthy food choices;
Ø Positive behavior;
Ø Improvements in emotional well-being.
Another study sought to establish a connection between the gardening curriculum and improved dietary habits. The three-year study at the University of California, Berkeley revealed that students studying a curriculum of gardening, cooking and nutrition have significantly better eating habits than children who don’t get the same instruction. Expect to see future longitudinal studies exploring various themes associated with student gardens and their effects on both the student population and the community at large.