Nutrition and School Garden Series Teaches Early Elementary Students

School gardens become a living laboratory where learning comes alive and students are excited to try new fruits and vegetables. Besides creating a positive attitude toward fruits and vegetables, school gardens also provide opportunities for physical activity. Studies show that school gardening increases self-esteem, helps students develop a sense of ownership and responsibility, helps foster relationships with family members and increases parent involvement.LouisianaState University AgCenter conducted afive-week nutrition and school garden series reaching 175 kindergarten students and 175 first-graders. Weekly topics included: Rules & Tools of Gardening; Go, Slow & Whoa Snacks; MyPlate; Fight BAC! (teria)-hand washing and food safety and Grains. Kindergarteners and first-graders made a connection to nature and also were exposed to healthy foods because of the nutrition and school garden classes, activities and tastings.Students harvested radish and turnips and sampled radish, green onion and mint. They cut and frozeturnips to add to an ABC Soup in the spring. Students receivednutrition fact sheets and healthy tips for their parents and guardians after each nutrition and school garden class. The resources helpedreinforce the day’s lesson as well as educate the adults. The students harvested over 300 carrots to share with local food pantries.The educators assessed students’ knowledge in nutrition, physical activity and gardening. All three assessments showed statistically significant increases from pretest to posttest. School gardens increase healthful outcomes in a fun and engaging format.

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