Gardening in schools is trending across the U.S. and that is a great thing. Often these gardens are justified through their integration of Math and Science--offering an alternative space for all types of learners. Additionally, gardens give students the opportunity to interact directly with produce which is meant to impact their decision to make healthier and more nutritional choices.
Beyond ph levels and growth measurement charts, however, comes an opportunity to incorporate another subject's curriculum: History.
With a garden, there are many approaches to incorporating history. Discussing agricultural practices, curriculum could center around cultural differences from ancient to modern civilizations. Teachers could ask students to research current agricultural practices and trace their origin. Students could create a timeline of important historical events centered upon agriculture. Students could pick various plants from their school garden and discuss their origin, migration pattern (if applicable) and historical context of their migration. For example, Okra is a staple crop of Southern agriculture and cuisine. Historically, Okra originates in Africa and migrated to the United States southern region through slavery. Through this example, we see that through just one crop, a teacher can highlight an entire unit of History content.
The Vista De La Cruces school in Gaviota, California is a great example of a school using their garden to incorporate History.
Here at E.A.T. South, our farm is designed to teach children based on stations. We have:
1) Bee station, where students learn about the importance of honey bees in food production, anatomy and types of honey bees, and get to taste local honey
2) Chicken Station, where students interact with our chickens, learn their importance in our farm's ecosystem and learn about their anatomy
3) Compost Station where students learn how compost works and why we want it in our soil
4) Tasting Garden where students learn the parts of a plant and harvest and taste various crops
5) Greenhouse where students learn about what a seed needs to grow and get to plant seeds in seed trays.
in the last 6 months, we have been working to expand our own curriculum in light of the opportunity to cover more subject matter. We installed additional raised beds and culverts in which we are planting crops to highlight the historical agriculture of Alabama from Native Americans to the present. This station will allow our curriculum to expand to all subject areas in an effort to further supplement the education of the students that visit our farm.
With the increase in availability of curriculum and resources for incorporating school gardens into schools coupled with the building financial support from government supported grants and the work of garden education non-profits, I truly hope one day soon we see a garden in every school in Alabama.
Teachers and Parents: What other methods have you discovered in incorporating a garden into expanding your curriculum implementation?