Desert Gardener: AHA Sponsors School Gardens

Desert Gardener: AHA Sponsors School Gardens
Interest in school gardens has increased dramatically in the last five years. Several years ago, you would have to really hunt to find a school garden. Today, there are numerous school gardens in Yuma Elementary School District 1 and Crane School District. If you drive by Gary A. Knox Elementary School, located at 2926 S. 21st Drive, you will see garden beds edged with cement borders and overflowing with vegetables. Even preschools, like the Big Red Barn, incorporate gardens into their programs because of the benefits they offer children.

Recently, six schools in Yuma received grants to build school gardens. Local businesses supported the garden project by donating materials, and University of Arizona agriculture students donated their time and labor to build raised beds and help prepare the beds for planting. This is exciting news.

The American Heart Association recognizes the benefits of gardening and sponsors a program to help schools build gardens. Schools can apply on-line at to receive an AHA School Teaching Garden program. If selected, AHA provides a planting day at the school where all materials, such as soil, seeds, plants and tools, are supplied to get the garden up and growing. Cooking demonstrations and other garden-related activities are held to help involve parents, community volunteers and the school’s teachers and students in the project.

AHA also provides the school a Teaching Garden Tool Kit which has educational lessons based on gardening experiences. The ready-made, garden-themed lessons teach nutrition, math, science and other subjects. The…
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