“Gardening kids are truly inspired, food providers for their families” (Kids Gardening)

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Kids Gardening


 Evaluation Summary ~ 2006 NGA Grant Winners

The National Gardening Association has been providing material assistance to youth and community gardens through grants since 1983, and in 2005 we started collecting data to track the impact of our grants programs via a year-end evaluation summary completed by grant recipients. Here are results for the 2006 grant cycle, based on 487 evaluations (74% response rate):

Grant Program

# responses

% response

Youth Garden Grants



Mantis Awards



Remember Me Rose



Kids Growing with Dutch Bulbs



Hooked on Hydroponics



Healthy Sprouts



These grants are awarded based on merit. Winners were chosen through evaluation of written applications; winning applicants indicated well-planned, comprehensive, community-supported, and sustainable youth garden programs. Because the pool of applicants and types of programs vary each year, the statistics noted here are dynamic.

Evaluation Highlights (continued with several statistics)

Here are a few comments gathered during year-end evaluations:

“The children are truly inspired. They love every task assigned in the garden, from planting to maintenance, and they have a true sense of accomplishment at seeing something grow from seed into something to eat or to simply enjoy. The garden has also created a sense of ownership in the children. We have seen leadership abilities emerge. Faculty and parents have been impressed by the level of commitment and responsibility shown by the students while working on projects for the Learning Garden.”
Christine Sotelo, St. Lawrence O’Toole School, Oakland, CA

“The majority of our students come from poverty and their families least concern is nutrition or environmental stewardship. Our students loved eating all the vegetables, and ask every day to pick and eat the things we grow. They beg to eat the hot peppers, and will even dig up carrots and eat them dirty! I have witnessed students scolding others for leaving trash in the garden area and for removing the critters that live there. Our garden has given the kids something to be proud of and they are constantly taking their parents and families on tours before and after school. It is something that I feel should be included in all school and required in benchmarks.”
Holly Orians, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, Grand Rapids, MI

“While the program has a clearly positive impact on the 24 students who attend club meetings, there has also been a large impact on the rest of the student body, which has an improved attitude regarding the school grounds and a higher level of school spirit. Students appreciate and take pride in the work that their peers have done in creating the gardens. Also, club members have introduced other students to healthy snack choices by doing “taste tests” at lunch periods, using organic produce from the garden, and this has resulted in more students choosing healthy veggies & fruits from the cafeteria offerings.”
Diana Ellis, North Junior High School, Boise, ID

“Many of our participants live in small apartments with no immediate access to green space. Not only did they learn about gardening in a safe, kid-friendly space, they also had the special opportunity to be food providers for their families.”
Nathan Larson, Friends of Troy Gardens, Madison, WI

“To watch the youth of this town, who have never grown anything or had any gardening experiences, get charged up and excited each time they came to the garden is worth a million dollars. They were eager to check their beds out to see how much their plants had grown, and never complained about taking care of their beds, whether watering, feeding, or weeding. To see the pride on their faces when their plants matured and they picked their harvest was awesome!”
Karen Heckman, Paradise Grange, Paradise, CA

“One of the most significant impacts the gardening program had on the youth participants was on their health and nutrition. Youths were given the opportunity to try new vegetables, to take them home to their families, and to eat them as part of their daily lunch at the free Summer Program. Over the summer, youths became much more adventurous about what they were willing to eat and there was a lot of pride about eating vegetables that they helped to grow, harvest, and prepare.”
Robert DiMasi, Winooski Parks and Recreation, Winooski, VT

“In the preschool environment, children respond best to real things. The children are more calm and focused in the garden environment. They love to be outside, digging for worms and roley-poleys and all sorts of bugs. They eat broccoli from the plants and pick their own pumpkins.”
Linda Fischer, Our Kids’ Place (Grass Valley School District Preschool), CA

“The impact of the gardening project is indescribable. The front of the school was an embarrassment to the school and to the community. After the district-level administrators saw the impact the entrance garden was making, they decided to completely restructure the entrance to the school. The patio was resurfaced and a new retaining wall was installed. This really made our gardening project more than we had ever hoped for. The community spirit that the project has generated is astronomical — we could never have imagined the positive impact it has had on school spirit from students and staff to administrators and the community. We started out with a small project that has grown by leaps and bounds. What was intended to be a project to enhance the entrance to the school has grown into a project that will continue for years to come. One idea leads to another and more and more volunteers and community members are coming to help.”
Bart Parson, Honea Path Middle, Honea Path, SC

“Our students have shown a sense of pride and self-esteem in their gardening accomplishments. They strive to successfully complete assignments and tasks throughout the day in order to earn privileges to work in the garden or greenhouse. Many have also taken it upon themselves to start home gardens with their families. Our knowledge is still growing…as will our desire to grow plants for our students to enjoy life science with a hands-on approach.”
Janet Haydel, D.C. Reeves Elementary, Ponchatoula, LA

“By far the most visible impact has been the change in the way the space is being respected. It used to be a scary, dangerous, ugly, vandalized space, and now after six or seven years of education and work outside with various groups of kids, the attitude of ‘the garden is a space to be protected’ is truly evident. The rate of vandalism has decreased significantly! It’s also affected their attitudes about healthy living and eating. There is no access to fresh produce within a two-mile radius so the presence of our youth farmer’s market is huge – the fact that we provide all items at very cheap prices is even better. People who live here in the projects are now starting to stop and buy healthy food more often rather than only buying food at the corner store. Families are shopping at the market together, too.”
Don Diehl, Fairview Elementary School, Denver, CO

“The gardening program had a very positive impact on the direct participants as well as the other students in the school. Not only did it show them how just a little effort can make such a difference but also how coming together and working together makes a positive difference as well. Kids that normally wouldn’t socialize together in the regular school setting were working side by side and having a good time. The roses were a good lesson on why it’s important to come together to solve conflicts and make peace rather than be angry and hurt one another, and how we are more productive when we are positive rather than negative.”
Linda Moe, South Shore After School Program, Port Wing, WI

“Students started out thinking they’d plant a few seeds and pull a few weeds. This changed dramatically as time went on and they found that the learning was fun, challenging, and showed “what a kid could do.” The students began to come back with stories of how they had helped out in home and community gardens. They found out that gardening can be fun, they could grow food that tastes good, make new friends, could speak in front of adults and other students they don’t know very well, and learned that growing things is not as easy as it might look.”
Ellen Finley, Edwards Elementary School, Newberg, OR

“My students are so proud of their accomplishments. Those who have the most difficulty doing their work indoors are the ones who truly love to do the physical labor of the garden. Here they find pure joy in digging and working with the earth. It is a pleasure to give them practical life skills and help them develop a joy of working in a garden. We are excited to continue to expand the garden this year and develop new projects.”
Barbara Delaney, Eisenhower Middle School, Succasunna, NJ

“When we started the garden program last year, three teachers were committed to the activities and time needed for gardening. By the second month of school, the number was up to 10, and reached 11 teachers in grades 1-5. Garden time quickly became the most anticipated 45 minutes of the week. Students experienced hands-on learning in science, math, language arts, health, and nutrition. Students on the fringe academically and socially became leaders of their peers in the garden. Science, math and language arts scores improved for grade levels participating in the garden program. The garden is becoming a part of school culture in terms of stewardship on campus. Students are concerned about the garden and want to take care of the place they enjoy. This is spreading to other parts of campus.”
Claire Frost, Camino Union Elementary School, Placerville, CA

For more data, please see our 2005 Evaluation Summary

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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