In today’s society kids are so focused on technology that they are forgetting how to interact with the world around them. Instead of playing in a tree outside for hours, they are staring at their computers or video games. In place of pretending that they are animals and running through the grass, they are focused on watching TV or opening up the newest app on their iPhones. What’s more, in the United States there is a huge problem with child obesity, as well as free-and-reduced lunch programs in schools.
I’ve been a teacher for over six years now and each year, my mind has become more and more occupied with a necessity to avert students’ attention back into nature and reduce the child obesity rates. After traveling abroad in Asia and speaking with other teachers, I have found that it is very common in many Japanese schools to include a greenhouse garden within schools. Students learn how to grow food, and are able to eat the food they grow for lunch.
I found this notion to be absolutely fascinating, and a viable solution for many problems children in the United States face. In my opinion, the benefits are so immense, that I can’t fathom a reason not to include greenhouses in every school. Here is how I see it:
1. Greenhouses supply students with healthy food to eat at lunch and reduce the costs school districts are pouring into free and reduced-price lunches.
If every school had a greenhouse and required that each class take part in tending to a section, the schools could grow an array of fruits and vegetables to fit the dietary needs of all students. The gardens could replenish themselves with the seeds they would produce (i.e. apple seeds, orange seeds, tomato seeds, etc.) and save a lot of money that could be used to buy quality meats and drinks. Excess money could be used for school supplies or funding for staff.
2. Students gain firsthand experience with nature and learn how to survive off eating healthy foods that they have grown themselves.
From my experience teaching, most students in suburban and urban school districts do not have the slightest clue how to grow food. They may not even know where it comes from when they buy it from the store. It is sad to think that a vast majority of our future population would not know how to survive if they did not have access to stores. Teaching students how to grow food would not only mean they would be immersed in nature every day while working in the garden, but it would give them the knowledge to grow and eat healthy foods as adults.
3. Obesity rates will go down because students will not be eating unhealthy mass-produced foods.
Let’s face it. Most schools in the United States just do not have the funding to provide students with extremely healthy fresh foods in lunches and/or breakfasts. As a result, students are often being served mass-produced, packaged foods that don’t exactly make the top of the charts for health standards. Between the foods children consume at school, the unhealthy foods they may eat at home, and the lack of playing outside, children are often not getting the proper nourishment and exercise they need to be fit. School gardens would not only provide students with access to proper fresh foods but could provide them with a love for nature that may inspire them to play outside more often.
4. Students will be calmer and more imaginative.
In today’s modern world, many children are faced with really difficult problems outside of school. These problems often cause them to be angry and act out. Numerous studies have shown that high-quality foods in schools correlate with better behavior and higher levels of concentration. Furthermore, students would benefit from a calming activity that is highly kinesthetic on a day-to-day basis. Gardening is a great way for students to self-soothe and become more tranquil. Spending time tending to plants also would give students a chance to day dream a bit, something students don’t often do when they are consumed by technology. Hence, gardening could lead to more creativity in the classroom.
I see greenhouses as a powerful way to solve many problems within the United States School systems. Let’s give children the tools to carve out their own healthy lives and develop a love and respect for the natural world.