New Study: To Root Gardens in Schools, Create Curricular Connections | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
TFC Banner

Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

Skip to content Skip to content

New Study: To Root Gardens in Schools, Create Curricular Connections

A recent study in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review, by Dr. Katherine Gardner Burt and Tisch Food Center team members, concludes that supporting teachers to connect gardens with core academic subjects is critical to help school gardens grow deep roots in schools.

Many school gardens struggle with being seen as “nice to have,” not “need to have” school assets. To change this, teachers need help making concrete connections to curricula. This study is the first to dig into the nuance of these teacher supports, finding that what is needed differs depending on teachers’ horticultural and teaching experience. For those new to garden-based teaching, well-developed curricula can provide guidance and build confidence. More seasoned gardeners and educators would benefit more from professional development to help them make their own connections across subjects and grades. Across the board, teachers also identified a need for specific lessons tailored to their own climates and state standards.

Why is this study important?

School gardens have many benefits, including opportunities for engaging, hands-on learning; fostering healthy eating and physical activity; and improved academic performance. In New York City alone, over 670 schools have gardens, with more sprouting up monthly. Yet sustaining gardens over time can be difficult. There are opportunities within federal, state, and local policies to prioritize school garden-based professional development and curricular connections. At the school and community level, more coordination is needed to make it easy for teachers to access resources and training, as well as learn from each other.

To learn more about this research, see:The GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool - a practical, flexible, evidence-based tool designed to help gardens grow deep roots in schools. The GREEN Tool enables advocates, educators, and policymakers identify strategies and resources to sustain school gardens over the long term.

Explore The GREEN Tool Research Brief, featuring the visual GREEN ToolMap illustrating pathways to establish, integrate, and sustain school gardens; school garden case studies; and policy recommendations.

This research was funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Tisch Doctoral Fellowship.

Published Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018

New Study: To Root Gardens in Schools, Create Curricular Connections

Many school gardens struggle with being seen as “nice to have,” not “need to have” school assets. To change this, teachers need help making concrete connections to curricula. This study is the first to dig into the nuance of these teacher supports, finding that what is needed differs depending on teachers’ horticultural and teaching experience. For those new to garden-based teaching, well-developed curricula can provide guidance and build confidence. More seasoned gardeners and educators would benefit more from professional development to help them make their own connections across subjects and grades. Across the board, teachers also identified a need for specific lessons tailored to their own climates and state standards.

Why is this study important?

School gardens have many benefits, including opportunities for engaging, hands-on learning; fostering healthy eating and physical activity; and improved academic performance. In New York City alone, over 670 schools have gardens, with more sprouting up monthly. Yet sustaining gardens over time can be difficult. There are opportunities within federal, state, and local policies to prioritize school garden-based professional development and curricular connections. At the school and community level, more coordination is needed to make it easy for teachers to access resources and training, as well as learn from each other.

To learn more about this research, see:The GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool - a practical, flexible, evidence-based tool designed to help gardens grow deep roots in schools. The GREEN Tool enables advocates, educators, and policymakers identify strategies and resources to sustain school gardens over the long term.

Explore The GREEN Tool Research Brief, featuring the visual GREEN ToolMap illustrating pathways to establish, integrate, and sustain school gardens; school garden case studies; and policy recommendations.

This research was funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Tisch Doctoral Fellowship.

How This Gift Connects The Dots
 
Scholarships & Fellowships
 
Faculty & Programs
 
Campus & Technology
 
Financial Flexibility
 
Engage TC Alumni & Friends