Real Garden Schools

Not many nonprofit organizations listget your hands dirty” as one of its core values.

For REAL School Gardens, that’s exactly what it’s all about. Since 2003, the organization has built more than 100 learning gardens at low-income elementary schools throughout Texas. It then implements a multiyear training program on how to best use the garden as a teaching tool, based on each school’s unique design.

According to the organization, schools with gardens have seen standardized test score pass rates increase by 12-15 percent.

When I first started reading to kids we often read stories about gardens or growing plants. When I asked them about BEES, they often yelled “I hate bees” or “I’m scared of bees”…. this lead me to talk more about gardens and add information about pollination. We also discuss how bees navigate, where honey comes from, what the Queen and Workers do! It is a great way to learn science. When they start their spring time gardens at school, I have noticed that they are more curious. Gardening opens minds, inspires kids and encourages curiosity. — the editor

The gardens also have a number of immeasurable outcomes, “from the teacher who can truly engage her students in a meaningful way, to the student who maybe doesn’t get some of the teaching when it’s in the classroom, but out here (in the garden), boom, a light bulb comes on — and they know what it means because they can see it, touch it and feel it,” said Lannie McClelen, senior project manager for REAL School Gardens.

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