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History of School Gardens

History of School Gardens

School gardens were developed towards to the end of the 19th century in this country to:

Foster better nutritional habits;

Teach responsibility, cooperation and character building;

›To allow urban children to connect with nature.
Many educators believed that with the mass migration of Americans from the countryside to cities during this time as small family farms were being replaced by industrial agriculture and with the employment opportunities that manufacturing brought to urban areas, that urban children needed their “nature deficits” addressed. School gardens were one way to do that.
Progressive educators used World War I as an excuse to adopt the first national standards-based curriculum: based on school gardens. The U.S. School Garden Army was created in 1917 with its motto “A garden for every child. Every child in a garden.”

Gardening was used to teach life skills like reasoning and problem-solving. The idea was that gardening was “not for the sake of the garden itself, but that it may lead the children into the life of the state” meaning to civic engagement.

Several million school children participated in the program before it lost funding after Armistice.

People believe that the World War II “Food for Freedom” gardening campaign was so successful (40% of all fruits and vegetables consumed during this time was produced in the 21 million Victory Gardens leading to the highest percentage of fruits and vegetables in our diet in recent times) because so many of the adults participating in the program had belonged to the U.S. School Garden Army during World War I.

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