Gardening in Schools

Developing a healthier lifestyle

  • Community – after school, give back/donate, connect to seniors
  • Time – maximize learning in a short period of time, survive the summer, internship like care
  • Key teaching tools – farm to table, science (Concordia), business (sell or donate bounty), indoor and outdoor, single crop vs. companion vs. fore | mid | back, key components (oxygen, sunlight, soil/nutrients, water, wind
  • Sustainability (soil, water, 20+ years, recyclable)
  • School value proposition and funding

Ecosystem

With the advent of electronics, games and other “indoor” activities, the rise of obesity and weight related health issues (diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, etc.) has created a lot of concern about living a better, healthier lifestyle. But where does it start? Years ago the family dinner table was a major component – raw ingredients transformed into healthy and balanced meals combined with an outdoor culture created a wonderful foundation for healthy living.

As the country moved towards dual income households, it turns out we lost more than just the “family dinner”. We traded easy calories for balanced nutrition, we traded quick, salty and processed for slow cooked, natural and naturally flavorful. When you add the latch-key life and it’s uglier more sinister cousin the video game and we have a recipe for all sorts of issues.

As a raised bed garden company, Eco Garden Systems is not here to change everything right now – our goal is to re-introduce the art and science of growing fresh food to families, communities and most especially schools. Over the same time span discussed above, some parents have put more “parenting” on the school systems – from pre-school to college, from discipline to language to manners, etc., parenting has also evolved as they seek help in their busy lives in raising polite, smart and conscientious children. While this is difficult (classes are larger, not every teacher wants to be a parental figure, kids don’t always listen), this also provides an opportunity. The best road to a healthy lifestyle requires three components:

  • Better quality food and ingredients – and a garden is the perfect way to make this happen
  • Physical activity – so many studies show the health benefits of physical activity – especially gardening – for people of all ages. Gardening is a great stress and anxiety reliever along with developing a sense of shared purpose (read as Community) that will help broaden the student’s perspectives on people, interaction and outcomes
  • In-depth knowledge on how food gets into the pantry – did you know that ~67% of kids in the LA school district were not able to explain where food actually comes from?? We need our future generations to embrace “slow food” and how they can be part of making the world a better place for themselves and others

As with any investment, the return should outstrip the cost – and with a 20+ year life span, an Eco Garden is a wonderful investment in infrastructure as well as the future well-being of every student that is able to interact with the garden

Community?

We mention community but how can that manifest just from a garden? Here are a few examples:

  • The internal school community – from other students to teachers to administration, a garden can be an entire school project. Some students lead, some follow and these roles can evolve over time. Responsibility for caring for a shared project helps the students understand their “place” in the community and the responsibility to a larger group.
  • The community around the school – a garden is a great place to start to teach interaction with those less fortunate. In some schools, we get great feedback on how students from every socio-economic background have elevated their community mindedness and redefined what “less fortunate” might mean:
    • Seniors
    • Food shelfs
    • Younger students
    • Neighbors
  • The “long line” of school alumni – what a great way to create continuity than to connect the past, present and future by passing the torch. Past alumni are a great source for donations to secure gardens and current students are great mentors for those who come later. Every school can benefit from these legacy building programs
  • Not-For-Profits – every community has food based not for profits (like Meals on Wheels) providing another outstanding teaching opportunity to explore the broader aspects of being an active member of the community and society as a whole

But the school year is kind of short – and we have weeks where no one is around

Fortunately, an Eco Garden Systems Original Garden can pretty much take care of itself once it is started. Whether indoor or outdoor (or both – a great compare/contrast experiment on plant health, weather impact, etc.), an Eco Garden raised bed garden works quickly enough so multiple crops – and multiple groups of students – can work on a project. An additional crop every year is possible and the gardens are customizable to even fend for themselves over holidays and the summer. Imagine your new garden becoming the centerpiece of a service campaign where students play Farmville in real life?

Okay, I get it – gardening is wonderful but what can students learn from your gardens besides how to grow lettuce?

This is the key question since an investment of this magnitude requires a multi-level ROI approach. Let’s start with what we have learned from our experience from other schools – leaning heavily on our work with Concordia University in St. Paul, MN:

  • Farm to table – scaling concept for students can sometimes be difficult but what if you could take the concept of community, the concept of enhanced output and scale this on how to feed a community or a geography? This not only teaches math but the challenges faced by the farm to table (or farm to school) movements
  • Science – how does the garden accelerate growth – and what does that mean to total plant performance? Many plants (see list on our Preferred Product page) do much better than with traditional gardening – roughly 2x faster in terms of speed to maturity and 50% better total plant production. All while using 65% less water – how? The science of hyper-oxygenation and the Air Gap. Knowing this points to potential new solutions for feeding a growing population through re-thinking the problem
  • Business – what do you do with the bounty? Sell, donate, use as a seed incubator for heirloom varieties, etc. The students can examine different business models for using the garden – and potentially give back to others from the bounty
  • Indoor vs. Outdoor – what about a competition? An indoor team and an outdoor team – who can achieve the best results with their environment. This can become a multi-year challenge as new classes try and edge out the past champions – and document how they did it to help build the legacy of the project
  • A few others to research and ponder:
    • Single crop vs. multi-crop
    • Impact of foreground, midground and background planting in natural light vs. artificial light
    • How is the garden impacted by limiting a key component (moisture, sunlight, moisture, oxygen)

We are a school on a very tight budget – how can we afford this?

You are correct – our gardens are an investment – a 20+ year investment that will pay you and your students back over and over. From more crops per year to faster speed to maturity to using 65% less water, these are all measures your students can validate – and even create a list of plants and crops that work best where you live. Interested in learning more? Read how the Eco Garden adds value to your garden community.

The Eco Gardens Systems “Eco System”

What makes our product unique on the market? We have compiled an entire segment on this – check out the points of difference that make up our Eco System.

Finally, our product is proudly fabricated and assembled in the United States – in fact, our plant is located in a small town in Central Minnesota – creating sustainable jobs in manufacturing, order processing, supply chain and fulfillment.

If you own or work with a senior care center, we want to work with you to get our gardens working for you – to provide the best life-experience to your guests, peace of mind for their families and a community building activity for everyone.

Where can I download a brochure?

We have created a brochure especially for Community Centers like yours who want to embrace gardening. View our eMagazine Eco Garden System for Schools for specs and benefits for your industry. Contact us to talk about your needs or place your order!

Our Partners

    Our System

    The original Eco Garden will transform the way you garden. Quick and simple to setup, sustainable, and efficient — this garden is for any level of gardener.

    Who We Are

    Started in 2016, Eco Garden Systems has a long history of gardening, gardening innovation and gardening for seniors.

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