Why a School Garden?

Why a School Garden?

By 31-O DG Barbara Thompson

At your next Lions Club Board of Directors meeting try doing this:

  • Take out the itemized list of what you spend your Charitable Contribution funds on
  • Add ‘School Garden’ to the list
  • Now look at the list as a group

Anything stick out like a sore thumb?

Someone, and maybe even several someones, may ask the question, “What is a school garden and why is it on our list?”

And that is a legitimate question. But School Gardens check off a lot of boxes for Lions Clubs in general.

Consider that School Gardens are actually acknowledged as an Environmental project. Additionally, through a school’s gardens, children get exposure to fresh produce and the process of growing it.

Children can receive hands-on experience to make the connection between nature, the food they eat and the pollinators and other creatures their school garden ecosystem attracts and supports. Or as we like to call it, the ENVIRONMENT!

School gardens provide a fun avenue to get children to learn about nutrition. A school garden with educational goals is a powerful tool. It leads students, school staff and families to make the connection between growing food and good diets. And growing food is a “life skill”. Growing food is freedom. Growing food is empowerment!

OK, so someone on your Board may still be skeptical of spending your hard-earned funds on School Gardens.

Let’s look at the boxes we are asked, as Lions Clubs, to check off. Look familiar?

  • Vision
  • Diabetes
  • Environment
  • Hunger Relief
  • Pediatric Cancer

Let’s say we have already checked the Environment box. Gardens have plants – plants remove CO2 from our air – plants give off O2 and add nutrients to the soil. And maybe we can make the leap that too much CO2 is bad and O2 is good. Let the debates begin.

But what about Vision? There are many studies for and against diet being related to healthy vision, and I am no expert on the subject. But studies and opinions have been published that an unhealthy diet – especially made of highly processed foods – lack the nutritional value to support optimum eye and vision health.

Diabetes? It has been written that a diet high in fat, calories, and cholesterol increases the risk of diabetes. A poor diet can lead to obesity (another risk factor for diabetes) and other health problems. We are what we eat – be a tomato or a pea or a bean – not a corndog. Oh, and peas & beans are considered légumes – look we’re also teaching French!

Now let’s consider Hunger Relief. OK, so one backyard or school garden is not going to stem the tide of hunger.

But it is widely quoted that, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

A network of gardens, overseen or managed by Lions, can make a difference in your community. Fresh produce from four or five or ten vegetable gardens can be harvested and donated to local food pantries and food banks.

Never consider a small effort to make a difference inconsequential to solving a large problem. Doing nothing is inconsequential – many small but connected efforts can and will make a difference. We have to believe giving a handful of peas or beans to a 6-year-old Kindergartner will make a difference. We have to.

Pediatric Cancer is just too horrible and complex for me to address. I leave that to someone with a higher level of understanding. But it is a growing problem that we need to understand and solve.

As Lions and as Lion Clubs, consider a service project focused on gardens and school gardens. They check off so many boxes that reach out from the core of Lionism.

Give it a try and you will be surprised at the difference it will make – Be the “Bridge of Hope” to our children to help fight hunger in our communities!

Have any ideas or comments?

I would love to hear from you!

DG Barbara