Children's gardens mushrooming

May 19, 2008
Children's gardens mushrooming
Only children really fit through the arch and in the tiny mushroom house (with its glowing roof), part of the Camden City Garden Club's Children's Garden exhibit. Credit: Irish Philadelphia Photo Essays

Researchers have discovered the secrets to enhancing youth participation in school- and community-based garden programs. A 3-year study entitled “Greener Voices” proves that children will engage in learning more readily when given responsibility for decisionmaking and planning.

Children’s gardens have mushroomed during the past two decades. Gardens are popping up in schools, communities, public venues, and informal settings. Despite recent interest in gardening with children, little credence has been given to what children think about the experience: what interests them, how they may be involved in decisionmaking and planning, and how they can benefit from their involvement.

“Adults make many assumptions about children and gardening, and instead of enlisting the creativity and innovative thinking of young people, they often involve children in the more mundane tasks of planting, weeding, and watering” notes Marcia Eames-Sheavly, lead researcher and Senior Extension Associate at Cornell University’s Garden-Based Learning Program.

Researchers set out to understand how children and youth engaged in project planning and to gain a better grasp of the constraints faced by adults who teach and design gardening programs. “We learned that ongoing efforts are needed to assist sites and the adult leaders who work there, including strategies to expand thinking about the capabilities of children and youth, to help children and youth adjust to new roles, and to identify ways for younger children to increase their participation”, added Eames-Sheavly.

The study will impact educators working with children, and ultimately impact the experience of children in garden settings, making those experiences more interesting, relevant, and compelling. Results of the 3-year project are being disseminated through in-service trainings, conferences, colleagues, and web-based materials.

Summarizing the project’s impact, Eames-Sheavly enthused, “In an era in which there is grave concern over a lack of young peoples’ engagement with nature, children’s gardens offer a way in which children and youth can interact with the natural world.”

Source: American Society for Horticultural Science

Explore further: Sundance doc examines real-life Close Encounter

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Adolescents underserved at American Public Gardens

Nov 17, 2011

While public gardens typically offer educational programming for adults and elementary school–aged children, the teenage audience has been largely underserved. A new study examined the institutional benefits, ...

Playtime helps bind generations

Feb 14, 2011

A new study has confirmed an old adage: A family that plays together stays together. Researchers from Concordia University and Wilfrid Laurier University examined the ways grandparents can maintain close ties ...

Recommended for you

Sundance doc examines real-life Close Encounter

10 hours ago

Earth authorities are completely unprepared for the arrival of alien visitors and worried humans should ready themselves by watching a groundbreaking documentary, the film's director boasts.

Toward a scientific process freed from systemic bias

Jan 26, 2015

Research on how science works - the science of science - can benefit from studying the digital traces generated during the research process, such as peer-reviewed publications. This type of research is crucial for the future ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HeRoze
3 / 5 (2) May 19, 2008
People care more when that are part of the solution. Who knew? Great lesson for all of us.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.