Here at Seventh Generation, we’re big believers in the important lessons to be learned from community gardening. One of our most fulfilling partnerships is with The Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes Elementary School in Burlington, VT. The Academy is the nation's first K-5 school with a sustainability-themed curriculum, with a goal to teach students to be responsible citizens. Our employees were fortunate enough to help build an outdoor classroom and natural playground for the Academy to enjoy.
Back in the 1890’s, a man named Henry Lincoln Clapp was sent to Europe to study their expanding use of school gardens. Upon his return, he partnered with the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and created the first US school garden at the George Putney School in Roxbury. Since then, the popularity of school gardens across the nation has increased drastically, with thousands of public schools following the model Clapp introduced.
Schools who use gardens as part of their curriculum offer numerous benefits to their students. Gardens create a sense of community between teachers, students and parents and teach lessons about teamwork and responsibility. Garden based learning is hands-on and active, and helps to teach students about nutrition and healthy eating. It’s an added bonus that these gardens happen to produce delicious local treats for everyone to enjoy!
School gardens come in all shapes, sizes and themes. If your local public school doesn’t already utilize a school garden, we recommend teaming up with a parent or community member and getting in touch with your school board. Develop a vision for what you’d like to see in a garden – start small, but leave room to grow.