Integrating School Gardens into School Wellness Policy


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Integrating School Gardens into School Wellness Policy
For more information, Please see websites below:
Organic Edible Schoolyards & Gardening with Children
Double Food Production from your School Garden with Organic Tech
Free School Gardening Art Posters`
Companion Planting Increases Food Production from School Gardens
Healthy Foods Dramatically Improves Student Academic Success
City Chickens for your Organic School Garden
Simple Square Foot Gardening for Schools - Teacher Guide

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Integrating School Gardens into School Wellness Policy

  1. 1. Integrating School Gardens into School Wellness Policy Introduction As our society becomes more aware of and concerned about the health of children, communities are turning to schools for solutions. Schools are one of the most powerful influences in the lives of students, and can significantly help to promote healthy habits and behavior in children. Schools with a healthy nutrition environment foster improved student health. School gardens are one way to promote a healthy nutrition environment. Research shows that children who plant and harvest their own fruit and vegetables are more likely to eat them. School gardens are outdoor laboratories, and can be applied to curriculum in natural sciences, mathematics, languages and fine arts. Freshly harvested garden produce can contribute to student nutrition, especially when integrated into school meals and snacks. Finally, gardening requires physical activity, contributing to overall student fitness. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 established a new requirement that all school districts with a federally-funded school meal program develop and implement wellness policies that address nutrition and physical activity. School gardens serve a vital role in meeting the requirements of this policy while increasing the overall health of the communities they reside in. This document provides a starting point for integrating school gardens into school wellness policy. Garden language may be embedded within current policy, or a separate section dedicated to specifically to garden activities may be added to wellness policy.
  2. 2. School wellness policy must establish: - Goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school- based activities that are designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local educational agency determines is appropriate - Nutrition guidelines selected by the local educational agency for all foods available on each school campus under the local educational agency during the school day with the objectives of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity Linking School Gardens to Wellness Policy School gardens are relevant to each of these policy requirements. One way of incorporating gardens into policy is by inserting garden language into each of the categories – nutrition education goals, physical activity goals and nutrition guidelines. Here are some ways that school gardens are relevant to each policy category: Nutrition/ Health Education  Garden instruction helps children to learn skills that they can apply to their personal behavior.  It has been shown that experiential education helps children to retain what they learn.  Gardens can incorporate nutrition education into other subjects such as math, science, and language and arts.  Structured garden-based nutrition education has been shown to increase students’ consumption of fresh produce. Physical Activity  On average, 30 minutes of gardening burns 50 calories.  Gardens provide physical activity opportunities for students and teachers without disrupting instruction.  Gardens have been shown to reduce stress in teachers and students. Nutrition/ Food Services  Snack Program – fruits like berries, carrots and melons from the garden make great afternoon snacks.  Unique a la carte items – smoothies, fresh veggies and dip, fruit salad, etc.  Salad Bar – use leafy greens or add-ons (cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, etc) from the garden.  Cafeteria Meal Plan – incorporate garden produce into meal planning as much as possible.  Each of the above options allow you to: o Introduce students to new fruit and vegetables. o Provide students with fresh, locally grown, in-season produce. o Potentially save funds by using garden produce on a large scale.
  3. 3. Alternatively, wellness policy can be written such that school gardening stands as its own unique category within the document. The following is an example of garden language which can be inserted into school wellness policy: School Gardens 1. The school district will support the use of school property to promote nutrition, physical activity, and curricular and co-curricular activities through school gardens. The school district will support the sustainability of school gardens through activities including, but not limited to, fundraising, solicitation of community donations, use of existing resources, and allocation of school district funds. 2. School gardens ensure students have the opportunity to experience planting, harvesting, preparing, serving, and tasting self-grown food that reflects the ethnic and cultural diversity of the student population. The school district supports the incorporation of school gardens into the standards-based curriculum as a hands-on, interdisciplinary teaching tool to influence student food choices and lifelong eating habits. 3. The superintendent has the authority to designate school property as a school garden and negotiate the terms of the agreements and licenses needed to create and maintain a school garden. The superintendent will ensure that the development of a school garden includes necessary coordination with appropriate representatives of the school buildings and grounds department. 4. The superintendent, with the assistance of the School Wellness Committee, will develop guidelines for school gardens. These superintendent guidelines will include: a. Explanation of how the school garden program fits the standards- based curriculum and curriculum guidelines of the school district; b. How the costs of the school garden, including materials, supplies, water, and personnel, will be funded; c. How the school garden will be maintained during and outside of the school year, including identification of school staff who will supervise and maintain the garden; and d. How the school garden will be used and how the harvest of the garden will be distributed. 5. The superintendent or designee will review existing school board policy and recommend updates to any other school board policies to incorporate the goals and objectives of school gardens, including school grounds, curriculum and community use policies. (Source:
  4. 4. A La Carte Excerpts demonstrating exemplary language of intended garden usage included in various school wellness policies:  “Encourage school sites to develop organic school gardens, and use fruit and vegetables grown at the school in daily food service, thus providing students the opportunity to plant, harvest, prepare, cook and eat food they have grown.”  “Each school shall establish a school garden, to be used as an outdoor classroom for nutrition, science, and other lessons.”  “Whenever possible foods will be … coordinated so that menus will align with … production in school gardens [and] reflect seasonality and local agriculture.”  “District will integrate experiences in cafeterias with the nutrition education curriculum in the gardens and classrooms by: … students growing and harvesting garden produce for cafeterias.”  “Staff shall integrate experiential education activities – such as gardening, cooking demonstrations, farm and farmers’ market tours – into existing curricula at all grade levels.”  “The district recognizes that school gardens can offer physical activity opportunities, as well as agricultural education, by engaging students in activities such as planting, harvesting, and weeding. Teachers and students are encouraged to take advantage of these physical activity opportunities during the school day as well as through after-school activities.” Websites with further tips and examples: School District Sample Policy for Promoting School Gardens: Berkeley Unified School District Wellness Policy: Policy.pdf Resources:    schoolwellnesssamplepolicylanguage-2011SchoolGardens.pdf 