Encourage healthy eating in children with a school garden

Parents face a continual battle to encourage their children to eat healthily and to include enough fruit and vegetables in their diet. The increase in childhood obesity has made this an even more important issue. It is now very easy to have a diet which consists mainly of processed food and this coupled with a less active lifestyle for many children makes healthy eating even more important. There is now a theory that setting up gardens at school or at home so that children can grow their own crops may encourage the children to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Plants improving air quality

Packaged and Processed

The majority of children will have very little idea of how most fruit and vegetables are actually grown and may only have seen them packaged in the supermarket. Some children may not even be able to identify different types of fruit and vegetables. The opportunity to grow them from seed and to be responsible for nurturing and looking after the plants and their crops will give the children a personal involvement. They should be encouraged to take pride in the crops of fruit and vegetables that they manage to produce and the natural progression from this is that they will then want to sample their own crops. 


Benefits of growing your own

The cultivation and maintenance of a school fruit and vegetable patch can also be incorporated into science lessons as they will teach the children not only about nutrition and health food but also about what is needed to grow the plant, the process of photosynthesis and even about composting. Working in a school fruit and vegetable garden also means that the children are taking part in additional physical activity which is always beneficial. The crops that are planted would not have to be too complicated. Tomatoes and peppers are relatively easy to rear and salad leaves can be used to provide several crops throughout the year. Strawberry plants are also easy to tend. If a school wants to be more ambitious then they could consider dwarf apple or cherry trees. These are often self pollinating so that only one is needed to produce a crop of fruit.


Getting everyone involved ev

Parents can also encourage healthy eating by getting their children to cultivate a fruit and vegetable patch at home. If they don’t have a garden then tomatoes, peppers, onions and strawberry are amongst the crops that could easily be grown in tubs or in window boxes. Potatoes can even be grown in large tubs.

It is generally acknowledged that children will learn better if they are interested in the subject. Gaining a child’s interest by getting them to grow and cultivate fruit and vegetables can be a valuable way to educate them about what is involved in healthy eating and to get them to try new types of fruit and vegetables. This will be easier for them to comprehend because they will have been personally involved in growing the food right from the start and will hopefully have taken pride in what they have achieved and the crops that they have been able to produce. 

Author Colin McDonald – As a father of two I am keen to get my kids to eat as healthy as possible. When at home I can contor their diets, when at school I lose this control. I wanted to investigate ways of influencing the school diet, these are my thoughts. Image supplied by (www.planteriagroup.com)

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