Gardens Changing Hearts
by Miranda Beal, Volunteer Manager and Garden Educator
In the first weeks of becoming a Garden Club Facilitator with One Cool Earth, I had to figure out how to recruit students to spend their lunchtime hour in the garden. How can I excite students to depart their time playing ball with friends and move into a garden which might be unfamiliar to them? Recreation and enjoyment is crucial to the well-being of all children. The truth is that enjoyment and pleasure can come from a variety of sources in the garden. For example, through connection to nature, building social relationships and the gratitude of nurturing and watching something grow (Simovska 2008). After making heart shaped bird feeders, salads, and garden bracelets, I have a reoccurring group of six 5th grade girls who spend their WHOLE lunchtime in the garden.
School gardens serves as a “safe place” for students. Studies show that large numbers of students report “that they feel ‘calm,’ ‘safe,’ ‘happy,’ and ‘relaxed’ in the school garden” (Habib & Doherty, 2007). I’m serious when I say they stay their whole lunch. The group of girl bring their lunch in the garden instead of the cafeteria. Even if the announcement about Garden Lunch Club doesn’t play in the morning announcements, I know they will be walking in the garden gate. I give them time to eat, socialize, connect with their friends, and then I lead a lesson where they still participate in those three things.
They are even more excited to eat the fresh vegetables that they grew last month!! It’s a wonderful feeling developing a place at a school where kids can play, feel comfortable, and be themselves.