Why Have School and Community Gardens?
PACERS supports student involvement in school-based gardening programs as core activities in schools because*:
- they improve academic performance—including improvement in test scores. Math and science are particular areas of improvement.
- they strengthen students’ interest in learning and participation in school—including better attendance.
- they contribute to the personal and moral development of children.
*All the reasons for the program are documented through extensive academic studies.
PACERS supports school-based gardening programs because:
- they have great potential for improving school and family nutrition.
- gardening is a life skill and interest that will result in improved personal health and will have economic implications for individual families.
- gardens function as living labs that are engaging to students and provide them hands-on and consequential learning opportunities.
- gardens are important aesthetic additions to schools.
- local community members will donate their skills and resources to gardening programs because they appreciate their relevance to rural life.
- they are contexts that bring together adults and children and young people.
- they are public demonstrations of good instructional practices and educational outcomes.
PACERS supports community gardens because:
- they have proven capacity to serve as contexts for community collaboration, engagement, and improvement.
- they teach and/or renew skills essential for growing and preserving food. These skills are important for low cost access to healthy foods.
- they can help meet the food needs of low-income community members.
- they have community development as well as entrepreneurial potential—especially with the increase in the “local food” movement.
In collaboration with the Camp Hill and Packer’s Bend chapters and their schools , PACERS initiated community/school garden programs in December, 2009. Funds from the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation supported the expansion of programs to Akron and Beatrice. Pintlala and Section programs are underway and plans are being made at Red Level and Loachapoka. Comprehensive curriculum directly related to the Alabama Course of Study will be available in 2011; a garden blog for information sharing has been started; and there are some funds for new programs. Contact Jack Shelton at email@example.com for more information.