School Organic Garden

The school garden
provides the basis
to perceive the world
in which we live.

Garden of Elementary School “Ivan Gundulić”, Čenej, 2017.

Many believe that school-based learning takes place only in the classroom. Today we see that the whole school environment is involved in child development.
Four years ago, I took on my first generation of first-grade students. It was a real challenge for me to show the right path to ducklings bewildered with new school responsibilities and challenges.
Analyzing their habits, mindset and interests, I started the Healthy Snack project. Together with parents, we made a small garden on one of the unpaved areas of the school yard. The part of the yard that was forbidden for children for safety reasons, eventually became a small oasis and the most visited part of the school.
Often my colleagues ask me why I opted for a garden in the schoolyard.
Primarily, I wanted a classroom that would be available to my students seven days a week. Through activities in the garden, students understand in a practical way the connection between the living and the inanimate world and become active participants in the teaching process. They acquire skills and most importantly learn how to apply them.

The school garden, as a possible part of the environment, is very important in achieving several goals.

It is good for developing good eating habits in children, as well as for education
Children who do not eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals cannot properly develop. They are very often sick, they miss school lessons and sometimes are forced to be homeschooled.
The school garden is not only a source of food but also a better nutrition option. It can provide foods, fruits, and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals and thus enhance the school snack with essential nutrients. However, children should not only eat better but know how to eat higher quality meals. This is where the school takes on the role of educator, teaching children to use the benefits of the garden in the best possible way, feeding their bodies on the plants they grow.

School garden is a good place to learn
School garden made it possible for me to incorporate hands-on activities into standard-based classes.
The garden engages students because it is a dynamic environment in which they will observe, discover, experiment and nurture the living world, and constantly learn.
It is a live lab where lessons are learned through real-life experience and not just textbooks, allowing students to become active participants in the learning process.
Through the organic garden, students strive to understand the ecosystem, practical horticultural skills, the natural environment, and learn to behave responsibly to the environment in which they live.
Imagine a student learning a history lesson “The great historical and geographical discoveries in the garden”. He or she is discovering what kind of plants Serbs cultivated during the Nemanjić era, and what they will cultivate in Serbia after major discoveries, or calculating the area of the greenhouse and the surface of the rest of the yard.
Teamwork through which each student invests his / her skills and knowledge is very important to complete all the activities. Although they are different and think differently, each idea is used to find a solution to the problem.
Creating conditions in which every student, according to his or her abilities, experiences being successful in what he or she does, strives and perseveres is a goal which, in the end, leads to a student with confidence.

School garden teaches business skills
The garden can be great for developing entrepreneurial abilities and generating school income. This is very often a widely accepted activity across Europe, and is very important for school and children.
Children are directed to develop new skills that they apply in practical work; they show initiative and enterprising, recognize their own advantages and opportunities regarding future education.
Through the organic garden project, my students learned how to do market research, create packaging designs, design a logo, promote and sell their products, and devise a strategic plan for some new investments.
Some students from rural areas may live off agriculture. Through activities in the school garden, they have the opportunity to participate in agricultural production through which they will understand their own impact on land and yields. Some students will start small businesses unrelated to agriculture. All of them need basic business skills and business experience. For them, this could be a process accomplished through activities in the school garden, which is an excellent practical introduction to further education.

The school garden improves the environment

Respect for the environment begins at home, but also at school. When children are actively involved in creating a school environment, they also respect that space more.
The garden itself requires day-to-day care and daily responsibilities encourage students to develop a sense of responsibility.

The school garden connects parents and the community with the school
Parents and the community can be actively involved in the planning, counseling, education and all activities in the school garden. They can provide support through hands-on activities or through sponsorship.
The parents’ support and presence are very important for every good idea to be successfully achieved.

School gardens are good for planet Earth
Organic agriculture should maintain and increase the health of the land, plants, animals, humans and the planet as a whole.
The basis of this principle is: Health is the whole.
Ecosystem health cannot be separated from the health of an individual and the community, and therefore organic production should support, enhance and maintain the health of plants, animals, humans, land and the planet.
Kompostarnik is the heart of our organic garden.
Composting solves the problem of organic waste and reduces the total amount of waste by 50%.
Compost is also an exceptional natural fertilizer.
School garden programs are flexible enough to accommodate the needs and resources of almost every school.
The garden itself may be small, in the form of several pots with plants growing on the window or a large parcel with vegetables in the schoolyard.
No matter the size, the benefits are not negligible. Through day-to-day practical work and play, children learn about the importance of collaboration and patience and acquire life habits that will be important to them in their future independent lives.







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