Gardening is a great way for kids to get their hands dirty and play with their food. They also learn where food comes from and how it’s grown. They may even be more likely to try new fruits and vegetables when they’ve helped grow them — and that’s what the American Heart Association’s Teaching Gardens Network is all about.
Teaching Gardens are real-life laboratories where students learn how fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy, balanced diet. They pair hands-on experience with an interactive nutrition curriculum to help students learn how to make healthy food choices. Schools get free resources and can achieve designation as Teaching Gardens.
The Teaching Gardens Network recently awarded 50 grants to help school gardens bloom. The grants are funded by the network’s champions, Kelly Meyer and Gail Becker. Meyer is founder of the OneSun Donor Directed Fund, which teaches kids about healthy food, and Becker is CEO of CAULIPOWER, a company dedicated to producing tasty, affordable and nutritious alternatives to highly processed foods. Check out the latest grant recipient schools.
The AHA wants to help kids build healthy habits early. If your school doesn’t have a garden, consider planting a kid-friendly garden at home or in your community. Start planning now so you’re ready to go in the spring. Include some quick-growing vegetables like radishes and lettuces so your kids won’t have to wait long to taste the fruits of their labor. Plants like cherry tomatoes and blackberries are great because they’re easy to pick and just need a quick wash before snacking. And homegrown fruits and veggies can serve as great inspiration for make-your-own-salad night.
Gardening offers many benefits beyond nutrition. It’s an enjoyable way to fit in more physical activity each week as you dig, mulch, trim, water and remove those pesky weeds. Outdoor time can also help relieve stress and anxiety. You can save money by growing your own produce and herbs. And garden time can be fun family time.
Want to help share the garden love? Learn more about our Teaching Gardens Network and how your school can join.