California grows more than tantalizing fruits and vegetables. To create a bumper crop of healthy children, the state passed an initiative called “A Garden in Every School,” designed to establish and sustain school gardens as learning “laboratories.” The results of this experiment appeared in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

A questionnaire was mailed to California fourth-grade teachers who taught in schools with a garden. When asked about the effectiveness of the garden at enhancing students’ skills and habits, 53% of the teachers said it was moderately to very effective at increasing science knowledge, 47% said it boosted academic performance and physical activity, and 43% felt it strengthened healthful eating habits.

“Our garden has provided children the experience of fresh veggies versus fast food, which has made a huge difference in diet, nutrition education and pride in growing food,” commented one of
the teachers.

In conclusion, the study authors said they hoped that the results of this study would “encourage the use of gardens and nutrition education in schools.”