Give Students the Gift of Growing
Greenhouses are a wonderful tool for growing flowers and produce, but more and more educators are realizing that they have a second benefit that can help children grow into well-rounded, health-conscious adults. Using greenhouses as part of schools’ curriculums is increasing in popularity, as people are becoming more curious about where their food comes from. By adding a greenhouse to school property, children will be able to get out of the classroom and into the fresh air to develop skills that will help them lead healthy, responsible lives.
Where Does Food Come From?
Today, people are realizing the significance of knowing where their food comes from and how it is produced. Adding a greenhouse to school grounds will instill this knowledge in children at a young age. Offering students classes on growing and greenhouse management will not only help them learn how to produce their own food, it will give them an opportunity to get out of the classroom for a bit of hands-on learning. Since plants are living organisms that need water, food and light to flourish, students will gain a sense of responsibility because they will be the ones in charge of keeping the plants alive. From seed starting to harvesting, students will be able to participate in every stage of the growth cycle. When children learn how to produce their own food, they are developing a strong work ethic along with skills they can use for the rest of their lives.
Live Healthy for Life
Growing your own food is not only fun, but healthy for people of all ages. Students will learn that fruits and vegetables can be delicious staples in their daily meals, while also developing the knowledge they need to produce it on their own. Fruits and vegetables that can be grown in a greenhouse offer crucial nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium that help reduce the risk of developing chronic health issues later in life. Fruits and vegetables as a part of every meal will also decrease the chance that students become obese. Obese children are much more likely to suffer from serious issues such as diabetes later in life, so maintaining a healthy weight at a young age is critical. Teaching healthy eating in school is a great way to ensure children understand the importance of a lifelong healthy diet.
Pick Your Own Lunch
Teaching students to grow is not the only benefit of greenhouse growing. By producing fresh fruits and vegetables at school, the cafeteria will be able to add this food to the menu. Since it is recommended by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine that children have two servings of fruit and vegetables per day, having these healthy lunch options ensures that students’ basic health requirements are met. Salad bars with an array of colorful vegetables can be added to the cafeteria inexpensively if almost all of the food is grown at school. Also, fresh fruits that are normally high in cost can be offered as side dishes more often, giving students a chance to grab a sweet treat that won’t negatively impact their health. Adding an abundance of produce to the school lunch menu not only encourages students to make healthy choices when they get in line, it will also reduce funds spent buying food from other sources.
Sowing a Seed for the Future
Growing can become a way of life for students as they get older if they find they have a passion for it at a young age. Today, growing has become more than just a hobby for many people. Families have backyard gardens, or even small greenhouses to produce their own fresh produce. Most communities have CSAs that provide plenty of local food to residents. For kids who want growing to become their career, there are a variety of majors at colleges and universities where students can focus on aspects of horticulture. Achieving a degree in horticulture can lead to a lifelong career in commercial growing, from owning a nursery or garden center to researching hydroponics and aquaponics. Allowing students to start a few seeds in a greenhouse when they are young could be the key to developing goals for the future.
A Greenhouse is Just the Beginning
The art of growing is constantly changing, and today, there are a variety of different ways to grow both in and out of a greenhouse. Raised bed gardening can be done inside of a greenhouse or in the open air, and offers a controlled growing environment where the soil can be enhanced to meet the needs of specific crops. Raised beds can be used year after year with very little maintenance, and can be an attractive addition to the schoolyard. Hydroponic growing is becoming increasingly popular, as it can be done in a small space with a system, water and nutrients. From Dutch buckets and ebb and flow systems to larger NFT channels, adding hydroponic systems to a greenhouse or classroom is a great way to get students involved with a more technologically advanced form of growing.
Another added benefit of having a school greenhouse is the many purposes the structure can serve. Due to the open space greenhouses offer, they are ideal for holding large group meetings and lectures. Greenhouses offer plenty of natural light, whether they are covered with polycarbonate or greenhouse film, reducing the need for artificial lighting in other meeting spaces like auditoriums or gymnasiums. Also, since most greenhouses are already wired for electricity for fans and heaters, it is easy hook up any equipment needed for meeting or lectures inside the structure. Not only do schools gain a place to grow, but they also add to the available space the school can use for events.
Teaching the next generation to grow using greenhouses and growing systems will enhance their lives and offer them a skill they can pass down to their children to encourage healthy eating and sustainable living. Adding a greenhouse to school grounds will change the dynamic of any school. Students will be able to use their creative energies to grow healthy, fresh food, while developing relationships with groups they may have had little in common with before growing began. Give students a place to grow and you will be giving them a gift they will carry with them throughout life.