Good nutrition is a key component to academic success, which is why the California Department of Education launched the Garden in Every School Initiative in 1995.
Research shows that children who grow and harvest their own fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. When this practice is coupled with nutrition education, studies show students increase their understating of nutrition and develop healthier eating habits.
Furthermore, according to the education departments School Garden Program Overview, a major study showed that 77 percent of students in environment-based education programs scored higher than their peers across all standardized tests and had higher grade point averages.
To view the CDEs document go to http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/he/gardenoverview.asp#ref5.
The UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners garden-based learning program educates teachers and volunteers on how to plant and maintain a school vegetable garden and how to incorporate state educational standards in the process. The program is based on the premise that a school vegetable garden teaches students how growing food locally provides nutritional and environmental benefits. Based on the departments re port, a school garden may also provide additional academic benefits.
Readers interested in participating in ongoing school garden projects are invited to join the Master Gardeners and UCCE Cal Fresh program nutrition educator Lisa Paniagua on Saturday for the Garden Enhanced Nutrition Education workshop. The program is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UCCE Auditorium and Seven Sisters Demo Garden, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Online registration is required; go to http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=12311.
The workshop, which costs $30 per person, includes hands-on activities in the garden and nutrition lessons including safe food handling practices. Each participant will receive a packet of information to help them get started at their school. Funding for the workshop is provided by a California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop block grant.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email firstname.lastname@example.org .