Gardening provides different forms of engagement for children, including designing, planting, and maintaining gardens; harvesting, preparing, and sharing food; working cooperatively in groups; learning about science and nutrition; and creating art and stories inspired by gardens. The studies summarized below have been selected because they include control groups, pre- and post-measures, well controlled correlations, or in-depth qualitative analyses. For more studies and an analysis of this research, see Blair (2009), “The child in the garden: An evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening.”
In a nationwide telephone survey of 2,004 respondents, people who reported picking flowers, fruits or vegetables, planting trees, taking care of plants, or living next to a garden in childhood were more likely to show an interest in gardening as they aged and to form lasting positive relationships with gardens and trees (Lohr & Pearson-Mims, 2005). In two interview studies with adult gardeners (sample sizes of 18 and more than 100), most respondents recalled vivid positive memories of play and exploration in childhood gardens, which inspired garden ideas and a desire to garden later in life (Francis, 1995; Gross & Lane, 2007).
Positive Social and Interpersonal Skills
When third to fifth grade students who participated in a one-year gardening program filled out a survey of life skills, they showed a significant increase in self-understanding and the ability to work in groups compared to nonparticipating students (Robinson & Zajicek, 2005). Youth interns in community gardens reported increases in…
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