Gardening: Big Benefits for Small Bodies
After an entire winter spent cleaning up tracked-in wet messes, we can now begin to look forward to that glorious season when we can actually enjoy getting something dirty for a change. Specifically, our hands.
If you’re a gardener, you know the joy that comes with digging, planting and weeding—and then watching your bounty of beauty and goodness burst forth from the ground. Oh, the gratification! It’s just somehow good for the soul. In fact, gardening is good for us in so many ways.
Turns out, it’s good for your kids too.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that children who help with gardening continue to reap benefits later in life:
- College students who learned to garden as children eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers who didn’t.
- College students who gardened as kids eat 2.9 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, compared to the 2.4 cups eaten by those who didn’t.
- Simply watching their parents garden didn’t seem to make any difference, nutritionally speaking. It was the hands-on experience that mattered.
Aside from the increase in nutritional benefits it offers, childhood gardening, especially in community, has also been shown to help with mental and social abilities such as:
- Positive social and interpersonal skills. Youth interns in community gardens reported increased maturity, responsibility and interpersonal skills, as well as positive bonding experiences with adults.
- Increased achievement in science. Elementary students who participated in school gardening projects scored “significantly higher” on science achievement tests than those who had no gardening experiences.
- Design skills and environmental stewardship. Even young children can help design gardens, and students who participated in a school gardening program also showed gains in pro-environmental attitudes.
- Improved ecological awareness. In an intergenerational gardening project, students reported increased interconnections in nature and understanding of ecology.
Seventy American colleges and universities and seventeen high schools are currently collaborating in a project designed to help students “Get Your Fruits and Vegetables.” The Get Fruved project uses social media, campus events and peer interaction to get high school and college students to improve dietary intake, increase physical activity and improve overall stress-management skills.
- Great and Unexpected Benefits of Gardening | Norwex Movement
- Kids Who Learn to Garden Eat More Fruits and Veggies | Martha Stewart
- Gardening as a child may lead college students to eat more veggies
- Childhood and Current Gardening Is Associated with Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake among College-Aged Students Participating in the Get Fruved Study – Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Fact Sheet Summarizes Benefits of Gardening for Children | Children & Nature Network
- Who Are We? – getFRUVED
- Growing Vegetables in Containers