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Can School Gardens Deepen Children’s Connection to Nature?

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This chapter is a review of school gardens and their potential for deepening children’s connection to nature. School gardens are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity in many Western countries following their decline after WWII. Rationales for contemporary school gardens are focused on issues that today’s children face, such as inflexible education systems, obesity, diminishing experiences with nature, and a lack of physical activity. Although lauded by their champions (e.g., researchers, educational and landscape professionals, celebrities), the school garden remains a tenuous construct both as an entity and an educational tool. This is due to lack of consistent empirical evidence about their role in learning, plus their reliance on teacher knowledge and commitment, fundraising potential, and volunteer assistance. Yet school gardens can provide spaces for many experiences in nature ranging from play, exercise, and socialization to learning in maths, science, and environmental education. The focus of this chapter is examining their potential for environmental learning and fostering positive environmental experiences and attitudes. It is proposed that many current school gardens may be limited both in their scope and levels of children’s participation, especially in areas such as planning and design. It is recommended that partnerships between schools and their wider communities (e.g., landscape architects) could result in more diverse school garden models that go beyond “vege” gardens in contributing both to environmental learning and promoting biodiversity. Empowering children through inclusion within such partnerships can lead to transformative learning. This type of learning could contribute to building resilient children who see themselves as future guardians of the Earth.
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1
OriginalpublishedversiononSpringerlink:
http://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/9789814585903_11
FullReferencetohardcopy:
Wake, S. J., & Birdsall, S. (2016). Can school gardens deepen children’s connection to
nature?. In K. Nairn, P. Kraftl & T. Skelton (Eds.), Space, Place and Environment
(Geographies of Children and Young People, Vol 3) (1st ed): (pp.89-114). Singapore :
Springer.
Canschoolgardensdeepenchildren'sconnectionto
nature?
SusanJ.Wake1andSallyBirdsall2
Abstract
Thischapterisareviewofschoolgardensandtheirpotentialfordeepeningchildren’s
connectiontonature.Schoolgardensarecurrentlyexperiencingaresurgencein
popularityinmanyWesterncountriesfollowingtheirdeclineafterWorldWarII.
Rationalesforcontemporaryschoolgardensarefocusedonissuesthattoday’schildren
face,suchasinflexibleeducationsystems,obesity,diminishingexperienceswithnature
andalackofphysicalactivity.Althoughlaudedbytheirchampions(e.g.researchers,
educationalandlandscapeprofessionals,celebrities),theschoolgardenremainsa
tenuousconstructbothasanentityandaneducationaltool.Thisisduetolackof
consistentempiricalevidenceabouttheirroleinlearning,plustheirrelianceonteacher
knowledgeandcommitment,fundraisingpotentialandvolunteerassistance.
Yetschoolgardenscanprovidespacesformanyexperiencesinnaturerangingfrom
play,exerciseandsocializationtolearninginmaths,scienceandenvironmental
education.Thefocusofthischapterisexaminingtheirpotentialforenvironmental
learningandfosteringpositiveenvironmentalexperiencesandattitudes.
Itisproposedthatmanycurrentschoolgardensmaybelimitedbothintheirscopeand
levelsofchildren’sparticipation,especiallyinareassuchasplanninganddesign.Itis
recommendedthatpartnershipsbetweenschoolsandtheirwidercommunities(e.g.
landscapearchitects)couldresultinmorediverseschoolgardenmodelsthatgobeyond
‘vege’gardensincontributingbothtoenvironmentallearningandpromoting
biodiversity.Empoweringchildreninthesepartnershipscouldleadtotransformative
learning,thetypeoflearningthatcanresultinresilientchildrenwhoseethemselvesas
futureguardiansoftheEarth.
Keywords:schoolgardens,schoolgroundgreening,children,environmental
education,participation,codesign

1 Department of Landscape Architecture, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland,
New Zealand. swake@unitec.ac.nz
2 Faculty of Education and Social Work, the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
sbirdsall@auckland.ac.nz
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Introduction
Therehasbeenaresurgenceinthepopularityofschoolgardens,especiallyover
thelastdecade,representingdifferentpurposesincludinggardensforfood,
flowers,nativehabitats,recycling,rainwatermanagement,art,sustainable
powergenerationandpermaculture.Forexample,Figure1showsasensory
gardenwithvariedleaftextures,scents,etc.Thesegardensrepresent
opportunitiesforchildrentodeepentheirconnectiontonature.While‘school
groundgreening’isagenerallyusedterm(Dyment,2005),othernamesarealso
used,forexample,‘learnscapes’inAustralia(e.g.Skamp&Bergman,2001)and
‘learninggardens’intheUSA(e.g.Gaylie,2009;Williams&Brown,2012),
althoughthesehavealsobeendevelopedintoprogrammesthatpromotegardens
aslearningenvironments.
Figure1:Aschoolgardenencouragingsensoryengagement(e.g.scentand
texture)
Thecreationandmanagementofschoolgardenscanbeusefullyinformedby
researchwithinmanydisciplines.Thisincludeschildren’sgeographies,which
representschildrenandyoungpeople’slives,includingtheirmobility,education,
participationandspatialinteractionswiththewiderworld(Robson,Horton,&
Kraftl,2013).Theseauthorsnotethatchildren’sgeographiesarenowan
enduringsubdiscipline,informedbythesociologyofchildhood,orthenew
3
socialstudiesofchildhood.Thissubdisciplineemergedinthe1990sand
positionedchildrenasactivecitizens,andchildhoodasastateofbeingrather
thanbecoming(Holloway&Valentine,2000),whichisthepositionof
empowermentadvocatedwithinthischapter.Therefore,children’sgeographies
offersamultidisciplinarylensthroughwhichtocombinedifferentperspectives
ofchildhood,forexamplethereasonsandramificationsofchildren’sdiminishing
contactwithnature,aswellastheirparticipationinschoolgardens.Suchalens
canprovideavaluablecounterpointtotheoftenuncriticalliteratureextolling
thebenefitsofschoolgardens.
Thepremiseofthischapteristhatinorderforschoolgardenstobeenduring,
theyneedtobechildcentredenvironmentsthatprovidevaluableresourcesto
theschoolandwidercommunity.Itwillbearguedthatwhileschoolgardens
provideopportunitiesforlearningaboutandconnectingtonature,theirfull
potentialmaynotberealisedbecauseofthewaystheyaretypicallycreatedand
used.
Thischapterbeginswithadiscussionaboutchildrenbeingapartofsocietyand
abletoengageinproenvironmentaldecisionmaking.Itisarguedthattheyare
notcitizensinwaitingfortheirturntoeffectchangethatcanleadtomore
sustainablesocieties;theycanmakeadifferencenow.Theimportanceof
childrenhavingexperiencesinnatureinordertobeabletomakepro
environmentaldecisionsisexplored,alongwithproblemsdefiningtheterm
‘nature’.Itisalsoarguedthatgardenscanofferopportunitiestomake
connectionswithnaturethatcouldcounteragrowingtrendtowardsbiophobia
inchildren.
Next,theoriginsofschoolgardensarediscussedalongwithreasonsfortheirrise
andfallinpopularityfromthenineteenthcenturytothepresentday.Rationales
forcontemporaryschoolgardensareexplored,alongwiththeirpotential
sustainabilitywithinschoolcurriculums.
4
Thechaptercontinuesbyinvestigatingtheroleofadultsinschoolgardens,
particularlythatofteachers,whoareidentifiedashavingthemostinfluenceon
thesuccessofsuchgardens.Itconcludeswithanargumentforthebenefitsof
partnershipsbetweenschoolsandtheircommunities,intermsofbothincreasing
children’ssenseofagencyasenvironmentalguardiansandtheincreased
biodiversityresultingthroughthecreationofurbangreencorridors.
Childrenandnature,participationandlearning
On14August,2015theEarthwentinto‘environmentaloverdraft’fortheyear
(Aridi,2015).InexceedingtheEarth’sannualcapacitytoprovideresourcesand
environmentalservicesearlierthaneverbefore(aweekearlierthanin2014),an
increasinglyshrillwarningisbeingsoundedthatpeoplemustchangetheir
behaviour.Itisessentialthischangeincludeschildrenduetotheirroleasfuture
decisionmakers.However,inseekingtoempowerchildrenasfutureguardians
oftheenvironment,theyneedtoberecognisedaslegitimatecommunity
memberswitharoletoplayrightnow(Morgan,2009),somethingPercySmith
andBurns(2013)suggestisstillfrequentlyoverlooked.Thisoversightisdespite
morethan20yearsofincreasingacknowledgementwithinchildren’s
geographiesresearchofchildren’scapabilityforactivelyshapingtheir
environments(Robsonetal.,2013),aswellasthewidespreadacceptanceof
childhoodasasocialconstruction(Holloway&Valentine,2000).Infact,as
MaloneandHartung(2010)pointout,childrentodayhaveapowerful
combinationofunprecedentedaccesstoglobalknowledgeandtechnological
skillsthatcansurpassthoseofmostadults.Theythereforehavethepotentialto
makethemselvesheardandtotakeactiononissuestheychoose.Thissignals
theimportanceofadultsbeingbothrolemodelsandkeyfacilitatorsinchildren’s
environmentaljourneys.
Formaleducationhaslongbeenrecognisedasanimportantvehiclefor
environmentallearning,beginningwithearlyUnitedNations(UN)conferences
andagreements,forexample,Agenda21,theworkingdocumentfromtheEarth
SummitheldinRiodeJaneiroin1992(UNESCO,1992).Thissignalledashift
5
fromenvironmentaleducation(EE)towardseducationforsustainability(EfS)or
educationforsustainabledevelopment(ESD)andestablishedtheaphorism
‘thinkglobal,actlocal’thathasunderpinnedtheUNDecadeofEducationfor
SustainableDevelopment(DESD)(Morgan,2009).TheDESDissignificantfor
havingpromotedalearningframeworkthathasencouragedunique‘local’
solutionswithrelevancetoplaceandpeople(Morgan,2009).Schoolgardens,
throughtheopportunitiestheyprovideforlocalenvironmentallearning,are
potentialsitesofplacebasedlearning.ThisisdefinedbySmith(2007)tobe
environmentallearningthatisgroundedinthelocalandthesocial,ideally
havingrelevanceandinteractionwithcommunitiesinwhichtheyaresituated.
Childrenandnature
AttheheartofbothEEandESDischildrenhavingexperiencesinnature.Such
experiencesareregardedasafoundationfortheacquisitionofenvironmental
knowledgeandacontributingfactortothedevelopmentofpositive
environmentalvaluesandattitudesthatfosterdevelopmentofpro
environmentalbehaviour(Bögeholz,2006).Withthisknowledgethat
experiencesinnatureareofseminalimportanceitisimperative,yetdifficult,to
definewhat‘nature’isandwhatitincludes.ForexampleBögeholz(2006)refers
to‘natureexperiences’,Fägerstam(2012)discusses‘experiencesinthenatural
world’andFreemanandTranter(2011)speakabout‘naturalspace’.
Thisvarietyoftermsillustratethatnatureisacontestedconstruct,andoneused
inavarietyofways(Payne,2014).‘Nature’isusuallyviewedassomething
externaltoandseparatefrompeople,assomethingphysicalormaterial.
However,itcanalsobeexperienceddifferently,forexampleinareal/practical
way,orthroughstudy(usuallyscientifically),orbybeing‘saved’througha
political/socialprocess(Payne,2014).Furthermore,theterm‘nature’impliesa
duality,withnaturebeingnaturalthings,suchasariveroraforestasopposedto
nonnatural,artificialthings,forexampleabuilding.Thisdualitymeansthatour
urbananddomesticbuiltenvironmentsarenotviewedaspartofnature,
reinforcingpeople’sseparationfromitandreflectingTaylor’s(2013)assertion
thatnatureisa“monolithic,selfevidentidea”(p.4).
6
Whenstudying1112yearoldchildren’sconceptionsofnature,Payne(2014)
foundthatchildrenviewednatureasanideal,somethingexternaltothem,
“pure”and“raw”(p.74)where,inallbutoneinstance,humanshadnopart.He
arguesthattheseconceptionscontradicttheirdirect,everydayexperienceswith
formsofnature,forexampletheirschoolgrounds.Coupledwiththeassertion
madebyBögeholz(2006)thatchildrenneedtoexperiencenaturetofeela
connectionandthusbemotivatedtocarefortheirenvironment,itbecomes
evidentthattheirunderstandingandexperiencesofnatureneedstobe
expanded.
Taylor(2013)proposesabroaderconstructionofnature.Shearguesthatpeople
andtheiractionsareentangledinareciprocalmannerwiththeactionsofnon
humanlivingthings.Therefore,naturecanbeviewedasacomplexnexusof
“humanandnonhuman,livingandinert,geographicandengineered,discursive
andmaterialrelations”(Taylor,2013,p.70).Thiswiderconceptionofnature
canthenbeseentoincludemodifiedenvironments,suchasschoolgardens.
Eventhoughitiswidelyacceptedthathavingnatureexperiencesisprobably
essentialforchildren’swellbeing(FaberTaylor&Kuo,2006),researchis
confirminganecdotalclaimsthatsuccessivegenerationsofchildrenarehaving
diminishingnatureexperiences,asexpressedbyphrasessuchasKahn’s(2002)
‘environmentalgenerationalamnesia’.Forexample,FreemanandTranter
(2011)statethat62%ofEnglishchildrensurveyed(n=502)saidthatthey
playedinsideathomemorethananyotherplaceandthat41%preferredplaying
inside.Furthermore,itisconcerningthatsomeresearchersarereporting
tendenciesinchildrentowardswhatOrr(1994)describedas‘biophobia’(e.g.
Kong,2000).Confirmingthis,Fägerstam’s(2012)studyrevealedthatAustralian
highschoolteachersfoundtheirstudentswereuncomfortablelearningina
naturalsetting,withoneteacherdescribingstudentsas‘distant’fromnature.By
comparison,Birdsall(2014)foundthatfivetosixyearoldNewZealand
children’sexperiencesintheirschoolgardennotonlyresultedinunderstandings
abouttheinterdependenceofflora,faunaandpeoplethatweresophisticatedfor
7
theirage,buttheyalsoexpressedpositiveattitudestowardsthefaunafound
there.
Inconsideringadults’roleasenvironmentalrolemodels,schoolgardensmay
alsoprovideopportunitiesforparentsandchildrentospendmoretimetogether
innature.Whileschoolgroundshavetraditionallybeenpartofcommunities,
overthelast20yearsthishaschanged(Witten,Kearns,Carroll,Asiasiga,&
Tava'e,2013).Wittenetal.pointoutthatchildrennolongeralwaysattendtheir
localschoolsduetoavarietyofreasonssuchaszoningchanges,parents’
workplacelocations,andschoolclosures.Asaresult,theyfoundthatchildren’s
independentmobilityhasdiminishedsignificantlycomparedtothechildhoods
theirparentsremember.Theauthorsofthischaptersuggestthiscould
contributetolesstimespentinteractingwithnaturesinceitisclearthatchildren
aretravellingfurthertoschoolandhavelessfreetimeandpermissiontogooff
ontheirown.Schoolgardenscouldthereforeencourageparentalsharingin
children’snatureexperiencesbothatschoolandthroughbringingideashome.
Inaddition,schoolgardenscouldplayaroleinrebuildingthecommunityfocus
ofschoolsresultinginparentsmeetingotherparentsandbuildingtrustthatmay
leadtoincreasedindependentmobilityforchildren.Thiswouldhelptobuilda
vibrantschoolcommunityandstrengthenconnectionsbetweenparentsand
theirchildren’slearningaswellaschildren’sconnectionswithnature.
Therightsandbenefitsofchildren’sparticipation
Inthe25yearjourneytowardsendorsingthetenetsoftheUNConventionon
RightsoftheChild(CRC)(UNHCHR,1989),children’srightshavebeen
increasinglyemphasisedandthisincludeschildrenparticipatingindecision
making.ReidandNikel(2008)defineparticipationasactiveinvolvementina
processofdecisionmaking;thefundamentalrequirementisforpowersharing
tooccur,leadingtoopportunitiesfortransformationallearning,atermdefined
bySterling(2010,p.524)asan“intrinsicandlifechanginginnerprocess.”Itis
nowknownthatsuchparticipationbuilds‘softskills’suchasincreasedself
confidenceandleadershipabilities,plusotherbenefits,forexamplea
strengthenedsenseofcommunity(Sorrell&Sorrell,2005;Wake&Eames,
8
2013).Whenembeddedwithinspecificdisciplinessuchasdesignitcanalsolead
toamultiplicityofmorespecialisedoutcomes(Derr&Rigolon,Inpress).
Oneofthemostwellknownmodelsusedtoconsiderchildren’sparticipationis
Hart’s(1997)‘ladderofparticipation’.Harthasalwaysemphasisedthatthis
modelwasawayofrepresentingthedifferingdegreestowhichadultsenable
children’sagencyindecisionmakingandinvolvement.Hefurtherstressedthat
itwasnotimpliedthattheeightlevelsshouldbesequentiallyreachedorthatthe
toprung(childinitiated,shareddecisionmakingwithadults)wasaspirational
ineverysituation.Despitethis,theladdermodelhasfrequentlybeenmis
appliedasahierarchicalmeasureofchildren’sparticipation(Malone&Hartung,
2010).AccordingtoReidandNikel(2008),perhapsthemostusefulroleofthe
ladderhasbeentheidentificationofthreelevelsof‘nonparticipation’(ie
manipulation,tokenism,decoration).Inadifferentapproach,Driskell(2002)
distributedHart’seightcategoriesofparticipationacrossagraphthatrepresents
increasingdecisionmakingandchangeeffectpowers(verticalaxis)and
increasingcommunityinteractionandcollaboration(horizontalaxis).Theresult
isamoreencompassing,lesslinearmodel,althoughasMaloneandHartung
(2010)pointout,oneoftheproblemsistherelianceonsuchmodelsastools,
ratherthanseeingthemastheoreticalframeworks.
Children’sparticipationandpowersharingwithadultsisanintrinsicviewof
education.Herechildrenarelearningtothinkcriticallyandreflexivelyabout
issues,forexample,envisagingasustainablefutureandthenworkingtowardsits
realisation,adaptingintheprocesstounknownsanduncertainties,whichhelps
tobuildresilientlearners(Sterling,2010).AsSterlingpointsout,inthiswaythe
directionoflearningissetbychildren.Thereforechildrenhaveopportunitiesto
participateinauthenticways,definedaslearningthroughrealissuesofpersonal
relevanceandtakingaroleasactivecitizens(e.g.Chawla&Cushing,2007;
Malone&Hartung,2010).
However,inmanyschoolgardensituations,childrenarenotgiventhisagency,
andinsteadfollowadultagendas.InthisregardMaloneandHartung(2010)
9
proposethatonebarrierisadultresistancetotherequiredchangeinpower
relationshipsbetweenchildrenandadults.Relatingtothis,theauthorsofthis
chapteralsosuggestthatadultimposedinflexibilityregardingtimeframesfor
projectcompletionisafurtherbarrierthatcanprecludechildren’sinvolvement.
InordertodevelopintoSterling’s(2010,p.515)“resilientlearner”,itis
importantforchildrentoengagepolitically(Chawla&Cushing,2007).
Therefore,theperceptionthatchildrentakingonpoliticalordecisionmaking
rolesis“robbingthemoftheirchildhood”(MaloneandHartung,2010,p.27)
needstobechallenged.
Wake(2008)arguesthatgardensforchildrenshouldprioritisetheirneeds
ratherthanbeingdominatedbyadults’agendas(e.g.throughdesignor
management).Sheclaimsthatsuchagendasdetermineboththeexpressionand
useofthegardenand,asacorollary,influencetheexperienceschildrenhavein
nature.Participatorypartnershipsbetweenadultsandchildren,whichstartat
thedesignphase,aresuggestedasawayofbalancingthegeographyofchildren’s
gardensbetweenallstakeholders.
Thenextsectionwillexaminethebackgroundtoschoolgardensandtheir
sustainabilityasamodelbyconsideringearliereraswhenschoolgardens
blossomedandcomparingthemwithcontemporaryschoolgardens.

Schoolgardens:Asystemicreviewandcritique
Schoolgardensofferspacesforchildren’sactivitiesthatcanbegroupedintosix
broadcategories:playandexercise;experiential(interactingwiththegarden,
whichprovideslearningopportunities,e.g.inscienceandmaths);development
ofenvironmentalguardianship;learningaboutfoodoriginsandnutrition;
socialisation;andvocationaltrainingthroughdevelopmentofgardeningskills.
Thefocusofthischapterisongardensforlearninganddevelopmentofpositive
attitudestowardsnatureandoutdoorenvironments.
10
Whileitisarguedthatschoolgardenshavepotentialforreconnectingchildren
withnature,aswellasprovidingopportunitiesforenvironmentallearningthat
canleadtoproenvironmentalbehaviour,theyarevulnerableonanumberof
levels.Theseincludethepossibilityofhijackingchildren’slearningpotential
throughadultdomination(nomatterhowwellintentioned),teachers’limited
gardenknowledge,lackoftimeandcommitmentfromteachers,relianceon
parentalsupport,andthefactthatgardensarenot,sofar,apermanentfeatureof
curriculumlearning.Thesefactorsareinterrelatedandarediscussedinthis
section.
Differenttimes,similaragendas:Abriefhistoryofschoolgardens
Schoolgardens,aspartofaschool’scurriculum,haveenjoyedpopularitybefore,
albeitinaverydifferentformat.InEuropeduringthe1800s,sandgardenswere
amorecommoninterpretation(Shair,1999)thanthevegetables,flowersand
fruitsthathavebecomethestandardswithincontemporaryschoolgardens.
Perhapstheoriginal‘child’sgarden’wasFriedrichFroebel’s1837Prussian
kindergartenmodelforpreschoolers;thiswasametaphoricalgardenwith
Froebelreferringto“cultivatingthegardenofchildhood”(ascitedinMay,2006,
p.248).Froebel’ssystemof‘gifts’and‘occupations’,focusingprescriptivelyon
appropriatebehaviour,eventuallyfelloutoffavour,sowhilethenamesurvives,
hisphilosophydiedout(Shapiro,1983).
Intheearly20thcentury,gardeningandthebenefitsofoutdoorexposurefor
childrenwereagainembraced,thistimebyProgressiveReformers.Forexample,
theMcMillansistersfromindustrialBradfordinGreatBritainwereconcerned
withsocialissuessuchastheplightoftheworkingclass,especiallychildrenwho
wereseenasinneedof‘saving’.Theydevisedaradicaloutdoorschool
programmecalledthe‘CampSchool’thatfocusedonthehealthgivingproperties
oftheoutdoorenvironment(McMillan,1917).Oneofthesisterswrote:
ThisCampisthebiggestofall.…Itistheopenspacethatmatters.
Ourricketychildren,our…deformedchildren,getbacktotheearth
withitsmagneticcurrents,andthefreeblowingwind…Toletthem
11
liveatlastandhavethesightofpeopleplantinganddigging,…toget
thesethingswesacrificedeverythingelse(pp.5152).
InAmericainasimilarera,LibertyHydeBailey’s‘NatureStudyMovement’also
influencedchildren’slivesthroughanimperativeofencouragingconnections
withnature.Inthisinstance,hisagendawastoinfusetheirmindsratherthan
theirbodieswiththespiritofnature,inordertoleadtocontentmentwithrural
lifeandkeepupproductiontofuelurbanandindustrialgrowth(Danbom,1979).
ThemovementwasalsooverlaidwithBailey’sreligiousidealismthat,tobeclose
tonaturewastobeclosetoGod.Bailey(1909)writes:
Naturestudyisarevoltfromtheteachingofformalscienceinthe
elementarygrades.(p.5)
Ittendscountryward.Godmadethecountry.(p.52)
Meanwhile,inthecitiesNatureStudyadvocatesandProgressiveReformers
subvertedBailey’sNatureStudyMovementintothe‘AmericanSchoolGarden
Movement’.ThisattractedBureauofEducationfundingfrom1914–1920,and
ledtosomesignificantsizedgardensbeingestablished,althoughlandscape
architectswerelargelyuninvolvedintheirdesign(Trelstad,1997).Inthetussle
betweentheeducationalaimsoftheNatureStudyMovementandthesocial
controlfocusoftheProgressiveReformers,thevictorsweregenerallythe
ProgressiveReformersso,accordingtoTrelstad(1997),schoolgardensbecame
regardedas,“…aconvenientmeanstoachievemultiplesocialaims:city
beautification,thereductionofjuveniledelinquency,improvedpublichealthand
nutrition,Americanizationofimmigrants,andthecreationofgoodworkersand
citizens”(p.164).
WhenAmericaenteredWWI,theprogrammechangedtotheUnitedStates
SchoolGardenArmy,whichreceivedFederalfundingandsawover1.5million
studentsand60,000acresinvolvedinschoolgardensforeconomyand
patriotism(Shair,1999).DemobilizationfollowingtheendofWWIheraldedthe
inevitableendoftheAmericanSchoolGardenMovement;thesuddendemise
blamedonwithdrawaloffundingalongsideanumberofotherfactors..For
12
example,Trelstad(1997)citesincreasingsuburbanisationandgardens
becomingahomebasedfamilyactivity,theriseofassociationssuchasScoutsfor
recreationalsocialdevelopment,therarityofteachersskilledingardeninganda
lackofprofessionalsupporttointegrategardensmeaningfullyintocurriculum
documents.
13
Historicschoolgardenmovementsalsoflourishedduringthiserainother
countries.InNewZealand,forexample,gardeningsoughttopreparestudents
fortraditionalgenderroles(i.e.cutflowersforgirlsandfoodprovisionforboys)
andinstilledeconomythrough‘growingyourown’(Beaumont,2002),aswellas
promotingnativeplantsforconservation(Cockayne,1923).Naturestudy
classesoftenbecameheavilyimbuedwithmorallessonsaboutcharacter,
citizenshipandworkethic(Beaumont,2002)thatwereexpressedvia
regimentedgardensandbehaviour,asillustratedinFigure2.Whilethisfitted
withthesocioculturalconditioningoftheday,itisvaluabletokeepthese
agendasinmindwhenconsideringtherationalesbehindthecurrentschool
gardenpopularity,whichisdiscussedinthefollowingsection.Interestinschool
gardenswanedinpostWWIINewZealandas,coupledwiththe‘babyboom’
puttingpressureonschoolrolls,theconvenienceofasphalt,grasssportsareas
andstandardisedplayequipmentbegantheirstealthymarchtowardsthe
homogeneityofschoolgroundsin1960s1970sNewZealandsociety.
Figure2:Schoolgardeninginearly20thcenturyNewZealand.Withpermission
ofAlexanderTurnbullLibrary,Wellington,NZ.
14
Rationalesforcontemporaryschoolgardens
Contemporaryschoolgardens,withwhichchildreninteractonanumberof
levels,havebeenproposedasapanaceaformanyadults’concernsabout
moderndaychildren,includingisolationfromcyclesofnature,developing
environmentalresponsibility,healthyeatingandexerciseoutdoors.There
appeartobefivedominantandoverlappingdiscoursesthatrepresentkey
rationalesforthecurrentinclusionofgardensinschoolgrounds.Someofthese
areeerilysimilartorationalesjustifyingtheincorporationofschoolgardensin
pastyears.
Amajorrationaleisdissatisfactionwithsterile,uninspiring,grassandconcrete
dominatedschoolenvironments.Ironically,concreteandasphaltwerethe
materialsthatreplacedtheearliereraschoolgardens,whichwerepromotedas
cleanandmodernatthetime(Beaumont,2002).Inacontemporaryaboutface,
currentprogrammessuchastheUK’sLearningthroughLandscapespartners
schoolswithlandscapeprofessionalsforgreeningschoolgrounds,improving
theiraesthetic,play,biodiversityandlearningvalue(www.ltl.org.uk).Inthe
USA,anearlygardenexamplethathasbeenwidelypublicisedistheBerkeley,
Californiaschoolyardtransformedin1995fromavacantlotintoanorganic
gardenbyAliceWaters,founderoftheEdibleSchoolyardsProgramme
(www.edibleschoolyard.org).

Criticismofeducationsystems,especiallythosefocusedontestingandstandards
thatleavelittleopportunityforchildrentolearnaboutnature,isanother
importantrationale.IntheUSAthe‘NoChildLeftIndoorsCoalition’wasformed
inareactionagainsttheElementaryandSecondaryEducationAct2001
(nicknamedtheNoChildLeftBehindAct),whichintroducedcontentstandards
ateachgradelevelforcoresubjectssuchasreading,mathsandscience
(Williams&Brown,2012).TheCoalitionpromotesgardenbasedlearning
(www.cbf.org/ncli/landing)andisastrongadvocatefortheideasofAmerican
journalistRichardLouv(2005),whoseterm‘naturedeficitdisorder’,hasbecome
acatchphrasetodescribethedownwardspiralofcontemporarychildren’s
natureinteractions.Thiscurrentdissatisfactionwithchildren’slearningand
15
schoolexperiencesmirrorthemotivesthatfuelledtheestablishmentofthe20th
centurySchoolGardenMovement.

Afurtherrationalethatisalsofoundinhistoricalantecedentsisincreasing
concernoverchildren’sdiminishingcontactwithnature.Thisisdueto,reasons
suchasoverstructuringor‘adultization’ofchildren’sfreetime(Francis&
Lorenzo,2002),increasedtechnologyuse(e.g.Kahn,2011)andlivesthatare
increasinglylivedindoorswithinurbansurroundings,cutofffrominteractions
withnature.Itisbelievedthisisleadingtofearandambivalencetowardsnature
(e.g.Kong,2000;Louv,2005).
Aparallelrationaletochildren’slackofnaturecontactthatisalsogaining
momentumistheimportanceofincludingenvironmentaleducationinschool
curricula.Thisisregardedasanareaofurgencyforchildren’sengagementdue
totheirfuturerolesasguardiansoftheEarth.Althoughcompulsory
environmentaleducationisbynomeansthenorm,itsinterdisciplinarynature
meansitisabletobeintegratedwithinothersubjects(e.g.science,healthand
technology)andschoolgardensareideallypositionedtosupportthisinan
experientialway(Williams&Brown,2012).Thepopularchoiceof‘vege’
gardensisdefendedbyMooreandWong(1997)asprovidingchildrenwithafull
plantandnaturelifecyclethroughtheyear;an‘ecosysteminminiature’that
beginsanewcropofplantsandchildrenannually.AccordingtoBlair(2009),it
alsoexpandschildren’sunderstandingoflocallygrownfoodandprovidesthem
withnaturecultureconnectionsduetoplantoriginsandtheirculturaluses.
However,theauthorsofthischapterquestionwhether‘vege’gardens(i.e.
focusedongrowingvegetables,herbsandfruitforeating)arenecessarilythe
bestoronlymodelofnaturechildrenshouldexperienceatschool.Thisisdueto
thembeingpositionedatthehumanendofnature(inacontinuumfromwildto
cultivatednature)withaplantpaletteoftenfocusedonhorticulturalhybridsthat
havehighdemandsforwaterandfertilisers.Furthermore,although‘vege’
gardenlessonscanencouragediversity(e.g.insects)andrecyclingmaterials
16
(e.g.rainwatercollectionandcompostmaking),theymaynotbethemost
valuablewaytoteachaboutbiodiversityandnaturalsystems.
Thefinalrationale,whichisalsoanalogouswithhistoricalones,isthechild
obesityexplosion,which,fuelledbythemassmedia,hasledtoascrambleto
inculcatechildrenwithbettereatinghabitsthroughlearningaboutfood–from
soilandtoil,tomakingandmunching.Anumberofprogrammeshaveappeared,
popularlyheadedbycelebritychefssuchasAliceWaters.Forexample,in
Australia,StephanieAlexanderwasresponsiblein2004forstartingtheKitchen
GardenFoundation(www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au),anditsaffiliate,the
GardentoTableProgrammeinNewZealandin2008
(www.gardentotable.org.nz).Amorerecentcelebrityaddinghisnameandvoice
tothedebateisJamieOliver,whobegantheKitchenGardenProjectintheUKin
2011(www.jamieskitchengarden.org).
InaprovocativearticleforTheAtlantic,journalistCaitlinFlanagan(2010)
attackedtheschoolgardenconceptinCalifornia,andespeciallythepolitical
agendaofWaters,who,Flanaganclaims,isusingthecurrent“FoodHysteria”
(para.2)tofurtherherpersonalcauseattheexpenseofunwitting
schoolchildren.Flanagan’schiefargumentisthatthefocusongardeningasa
curriculumbasededucationalactivityoversimplifieslearningacrosscore
disciplinessuchasEnglishandmathematics.Shearguesthatthisfocusis
cheatingchildrenoftheirrighttolearnwhatisrequiredtopassstateexams,
whilesimultaneouslypromotingWaters’highprofilecareer.Itisinterestingto
notethatthisviewrunscountertotheearliermentionedcontemporary
rationalewheregardensareseenasawayofamelioratingthecurrent
educationalemphasisontestingandmeetingstandards.
WithinFlanagan’sarticle,allusionstothesimilarityinagendasbehindschool
gardenscurrentlyandhistorically,canberead.Forexample,“contemporary
progressivism”(Flanagan,2010,para.3),“moralvalues”(para.3)and“social
movement”(para.3)arephrasesusedinherarticlethatreflectthelanguage
usedbyProgressiveReformersinearly20thcenturyschoolgardens.Infact,
17
accordingtoTrelstad(1977),withtheexceptionoftheenvironmentalrationale,
thecurrentrationalesdiscussedabovesharecommonalitieswiththoseutilised
inthepast,makingthemsomewhatcautionarytales.
Contemporaryschoolgardens–anewparadigmoraflashinthepan?
Inthepresentera,schoolgardensareflourishing.Asinthepast,thisresurgence
isfocusedonadults’perceptionsof‘children’sbestinterests’.Thecontemporary
purposeofschoolgardensistodiversifyandenrichschoolgroundsasan
engagingandreallifelearningexperienceinnatureforstudents,yetresearchers
arealsoreportinganumberofrelatedeffects.Forexample,engagementina
gardenspacecanfosterastrongsenseofbelonginginchildrenregardlessof
ethnicity,thatinturncanengendersocialinclusivitybyhelpingtoovercome
culturalbarriersoflanguageandconnection(e.g.CutterMackenzie,2009;
Dyment&Bell,2008).Gardenscanalsoencouragephysicalactivity(e.g.Dyment
&Bell,2007)anddeliverotherbenefitsrelatedtochildren’shealthandeating,
e.g.learningabouthowfoodisgrownandtheunderstandingtheconceptof‘food
miles’(Passy,2014).Developmentofsoftskillssuchascommunication,
leadershipandpatiencearealsowidelyreportedinstudiesasqualities
promotedbygardenbasedlearning(Williams&Dixon,2013).Thisillustrates
thepotentialofschoolgardensforengagingwithparticipatoryprocesses
previouslydiscussed.Finally,asPassy(2014)notes,schoolgardensoffera
relativelycheapandaccessibleoutdoorlearningresource,comparedtothe
expenseandcomplexityofoffsitefieldtrips.
Itisvaluabletospeculateonthesustainabilityofschoolgardens,i.e.whether
thiscurrentpopularitywillcontinuewithgardensbecominganintrinsicpartof
thecurriculum,orasinthepast,thattheywilldisappearfromschoolgrounds
withoutleavingatrace.Inthissection,twoareasofinfluenceontherenaissance
ofschoolgardensareidentifiedanddiscussed.
Thefirstisthepresenceofgarden‘champions’.AveteranadvocateisRobin
Moore,researcherandpractitionerwhodesignsandconsultsonnaturalplay
andlearningenvironmentsforchildren,focusingontheirparticipationindesign
18
(seeMoore&Wong,1997;&www.naturalearning.org).RichardLouv(2005)is
anotherchampionpreviouslydiscussed,whosebookLastChildintheWoods
resonatedwithpeople’sfearsaboutchildren’slossofnatureexperiences,
especiallyduetoincreasedtechnologyexposure.Endorsementofschool
gardensbythesechampions,togetherwithcelebritychefssuchasAliceWaters,
StephanieAlexanderandothers,hasmeanttheyareenjoyinggreaterawareness
andrecognition.

Publicationofbooksandthedevelopmentofprogrammesespousedbysuch
championshasprovidedfurtherevidenceofthegrowingpopularityofschool
gardens.Someoftheseprogrammeswereidentifiedintheprevioussectionon
rationalesandanumberofbookshaverecentlybeenpublished,especiallyinthe
USA.Foundedinresearchand/orpractice,theyprovideaffirmationandadvice
onoutdoorlearningopportunitiesatkindergartensandschools(e.g.Bucklin
Sporer&Pringle,2010;Danks,2010).Afurthertwobookspromote‘learning
gardens’forsustainabilityeducationthroughapedagogicalshiftawayfrom
currenttransmissiveandproductfocusedUSAeducationpolicy,towardsafocus
onprocessandparticipationusingsoilscienceasapedagogicalmetaphor
(Gaylie,2009;Williams&Brown,2012).Insodoing,theseauthorshopeto
bridgethedividebetweensimplegardeningandtransformativeenvironmental
learning.
Asecondinfluenceisfunding.Asinthepast,governmentalsupportviafunding
influencesschoolgardens.Previouslysuccesswasmeasuredintermsoffood
productionwhereascurrently,itisaccountabilityintermsofstudent
achievement.Ozer(2007)pointsoutthattherewereUSAgovernmentfunding
incentivesin2004tostartupeducationalgardensfocusingonnutrition.
However,supportcomesatacostandthereisnowpressureintheUSAto
validateanecdotalclaimsofthemyriadeducationalbenefitsofschoolgardens,in
ordertohelpsecuretheirsurvival(Williams&Dixon,2013).ThreeUSAreviews
ofschoolgardenbasedliteraturehavebeencompletedrecently,withtheaimof
establishingclearevidencethatlinksschoolgardenstoimprovedlearningin
studentsacrossarangeofareasincludingacademic,social,healthand
19
environmentalempathy(Blair,2009;Ozer,2007;Williams&Dixon,2013).The
reviewsarebasedonpublishedresearchaboutstudentoutcomesfrom
involvementingardenbasedprojects.Allareunanimousthatwhileschool
gardenshavegreatpotentialtopromoteintellectual,physicalandsocial
developmentofschoolchildren,thereisanurgentneedforstudiestobelonger
term,moreconsistentinscope,inclusiveofqualitativeandquantitativedataand
withincreasedrigourofdesignanddisseminationofresearchmethods.Unless
thisisaddressedinfuturestudies,itmaybedifficulttofindcontinuedsupport
andfunding(especiallygovernmental)forschoolgroundgreeningprojects.

Theroleofadultsingardenbasedlearning
Knowledgeableadultscanplayanimportantroleinensuringeffectivegarden
basedlearning.Adultswhocanassistwithchildren’slearninginthissetting
includeteachers,groundsmanagers,parentsandprofessionalssuchas
landscapearchitects.
Ofallofthese,itisteacherswhohavethemostinfluenceoversuccessorfailure
ofschoolgardensorotherenvironmentaleducationprojects,especiallysince
theymayinvestdedicationandpassionbeyondjobboundaries(Passy,2014;
Wake&Eames,2013).Blair(2009)concursthatresponsibilityforschool
gardensfallsmostlyonteachersandemphasisestheimportanceoftrainingfor
teachersincreatingandusingschoolgardensforlearning.AccordingtoTrelstad
(1997),thiswasalsoanissueinthe20thcenturyschoolgardenmovement.
Passy’s(2014)researchfoundthatyoungteachersespecially,feltpressureto
meetrequirementssuchasreadyingstudentsforexaminations,whichledtoa
verystructuredandclassroomfocussedteachingapproach,ratherthanbeing
preparedtoexperimentwithgardenbasedlearning.Whilelargelyblaming
currentUKeducationpolicy,Passysuggeststhatteachers,especiallyyoungones,
mayfeelthreatenedbytheirlackofgardeningknowledge.Frustrationby
studentsresultingfromlackofteacherknowledgehasbeensuggested
previouslyascontributingtochildren’sdiminishedinterestinlearningabout
nature(Kong,2000).
20
Researchalsohighlightstheimportanceofteachersfeelingsupportedinorder
forschoolgardenstothrivelongterm(Passy,2014;Wake&Eames,2013),and
theauthorsofboththesestudiesfoundthatschoolmanagers(e.g.principalsand
schoolboards)exertconsiderableinfluenceonthesuccessofenvironmental
learning,includinggardenprojects,duetothedecisionmakingpowerthey
wield.AsWooltorton(2004,p.606)pointsout,“Leadershipcanbeaserious
tensioninthetransformationofaschoolcommunitytowardssustainability”,
whilePassy(2014,p.33)summarises:
…factorsthatenabledaschoolgardentobedevelopedincluded
strongsupportfromseniormanagement,akeymemberofstaffto
takeresponsibilityforthegarden,givinggardeningactivitiesahigh
profilewithintheschoolandensuringthatthegardenrelatedtasks
aremanageableforstaff.
Fromthis,Passyconcludesthatthedegreetowhichgardensareintegratedinto
schoollifeisfundamentaltotheirsuccessandthisisdeterminedbythe‘school
culture’,asomewhatsubjectiveanddifficulttomeasurevalue.
Professionalssuchaslandscapearchitectsalsohaveapotentiallyvaluableroleto
playinredesignofschoolgrounds,yetanecdotalevidencepointstoageneral
lackoftheirinput,which,accordingtoTrelstad(1997),isacontinuationofthe
trendinthepreviousschoolgardenmovement.Itis,however,importantto
acknowledgethatlandscapearchitecturewasafledglingdisciplineatthattime.
Landscapearchitects’involvementinacodesignrelationshipwithstudents
couldcertainlyaddtotheauthenticityoftheprojectforlearnersthroughtheir
participationinrealandlocallyrelevantdesignprojects,workedthroughwith
designprofessionals.Parnell(2010)definescodesigninthissituationas“…
userstak[ing]anactive,handsonroleinthedesignoftheschool
building/grounds,workingdirectlyandcollaborativelywiththedesignteamto
developdesignsthroughmodels,forexample”.
Asidentifiedintheprevioussectiononchildren’sparticipation,environmental
learningshouldbeauthentic,relevant,encourageproenvironmentalbehaviour
21
andincludechildrenengagingpoliticallyinanadvocacyrole,ratherthanthem
beingpassiveparticipants(Chawla&Cushing,2007),e.g.gardeningunder
direction.WakeandEames’(2013)findingsillustratethispointsincethey
determinedthereweresignificantlearninggainswhenstudentsworked
alongsidebuildingindustrypractitionersingrapplingwithdesignissueswithin
regulatoryframeworks.Inthisinstance,andwithstrongprojectsupportby
schoolmanagement,studentslearntaboutbuildingconsents,riskassessment
reports,wastemanagement,performanceofmaterialsanddesigntechniquesas
wellasdevelopingsoftskillssuchascollaborationandproblemsolving.Thereis
agrowingbodyofresearchandexamplesillustratingthebenefitsofchildren’s
democraticinvolvementwitharchitects(e.g.
www.designingwithchildren.dao.theusefularts.org).Thisisinpartduetothe
UnitedKingdom’sGovernmentledBuildingSchoolsfortheFutureProgramme
(BSF)of2005–2010,whichhelpedtomainstreamschoolbasedcodesign
projectsbetweenpractitionersandstakeholders(Burke,2007).
Theauthorsofthischapterspeculatethattheverythingswhichmakeschool
groundgreeningprojectsseemmoreachievablethanbuildingprojects(i.e.lower
costandlessregulatoryrequirementstocreateagarden)arewhatalsolead
laypeople(e.g.teachersandschoolmanagement)tothinkthatlandscapeand
plantspecialistsarenotrequiredtoassistwithschoolgrounddevelopment.
Confirmingthis,Downs(2006)commentsthatduringtherecentBSFperiodin
theUK,fundingshortfallsledtoalackoflandscapearchitectinvolvementin
schoolrenewalprojects,withvolunteerassistanceofteachersandparentsused
instead.Downspredictsthiswillleadtolongtermproblemswithdesignand
management.
Whatschoolgardenscanoffer:Thebenefitsofpartnerships
Thetendencyofnotinvolvingspecialistlandscapepractitionersinschoolground
greeningcouldcontributetolostopportunitiestolookholisticallyatschool
grounddevelopmentintermsoftheenvironmentallearningandecosystem
servicestheselandscapescouldprovideandperform.Relatedtothis,the
22
frequentlyadhocnatureofschoolgardenestablishmentmeansthatthereis
considerablepressureonteachers,groundsstaff(e.g.caretakers)andparentsto
supportsuchprojects.Thisprivilegesschoolswithparentswhohavethetime,
knowledgeandconfidencetovolunteer,and/orwithconnectionstofundraising
means,whichforthelatteratleast,generallyequatestoschoolswithhigher
socioeconomichouseholdsintheircatchment(e.g.Dyment,2005;Flanagan,
2010).
Consequently,ifgardensareplannedbyothers,withchildren’smaininput
limitedtomaintainingthegardenandthecurriculumlinkedlearningrestricted
tomathematicalworkingoutofplantrowsorwritingrecipesinEnglishclasses,
asFlanagan(2010)suggests,thenthepotentialofaschoolgardenisnotbeing
realised.Ifthecurrentschoolgardenmovementistobeenduring,theauthorsof
thischapterproposethatthemethodologyaroundthedevelopmentanduseof
schoolgardensneedstoencompassarangeofpartnershipsandembrace
democraticparticipationofchildren,leadingtotransformativelearning.Intheir
researchusingUzzell’sframeworkforschoolcommunitypartnerships,Flowers
andChodkiewicz(2009)concur.Theypointouttherearefourlevelsatwhich
partnershipcanoccur.Theserangefromlearningbeingisolatedwithinthe
school,tocommunitymemberscomingintotheschool,toschoolsgoingoutinto
thecommunityand,ultimately,schoolsworkingwithcommunitiesassocial
agentsforenvironmentalchange.Theseauthorsarguethatthelastisthemost
effectivefortransformativelearning.Thissuggeststhatthosedrivingschool
groundgreeningprojectsshouldfocusonbuildingstrongrelationshipsbetween
theschoolanditscommunityaswellasactivelyengagingchildrenintheprocess.
Schoolgroundgreeningprojectswiththisfocuscouldrealiseavisionofco
designpartnershipsbetweenschoolsandlandscapepractitioners.Withinthis
studentswouldworkalongsidespecialiststoresearch,design,constructanduse
theiroutdoorschoolenvironmentsinawaythatintegratescurriculumbased
learning,buildsempowerment,engageswithlocalcommunitiesandaddsto
ecosystemservices,potentiallyleadingtotheresilientlearnersenvisagedby
Sterling(2010).Theenvironmentaladvantagesofthisareuntoldandnotwell
23
researchedinthiscontext,forexample:greatershadingandcoolingfrom
plantingtreesandshrubs;foodandshelterforbirds;creationofbird,insect,
lizardandmammalhabitats;restorationofstreamcoursesandwetlands–all
contributingtoamoreinterconnectedcorridorofgreenthroughoutcities.
Ithasalreadybeenestablishedthatchildrenwanttohaveasayinlandscape
decisionmaking,yetoftendonotfeellistenedto(Roe,2007).Inaschool
groundgreeningproject,Dyment(2008)foundthat,whilechildrenwere
conspicuousinimplementationofgardens,theywereunderrepresentedintheir
design.Roe’sstudy(2007)indicatedchildrenunderstandtheirenvironmentand
valuelandscapefeaturesdifferentlytoadultsbecauseoftheirperceptionsof
safetyandriskintheenvironment,forexampletheirneedtochallenge
themselvesphysicallyandpsychologicallyaspartoflearning.Dependingonage,
itisclearchildrenareinterestedinspacestoplayandspacestorelax,where
theyfeelsecurebutpossiblyseparatefromadults,thatarenaturalandhave
placeidentity(Francis&Lorenzo,2006).Obviouslychildrenhaveunique
knowledgeoftheplacestheyinhabit,suchasschools,althoughwhatFrancisand
Lorenzo(2006)havedescribedas‘planningaroundchildren’tendstoignore
this,potentiallyleadingtoparanoidadultsadvocatingforfencedanddesignated
playareaswherechildrencanbeseenand‘safe’.Theseresearchersclaimthisis
partlyresponsibleforthemuchtalkedabout‘declineofchildhood’(seeLouv,
2005)anditsally,‘politicizationofparenting,’whichFuredi(2014)explains,is
theturningofchildrearingintoapoliticalfootballthatjudgesparentsharshly
forallowingchildrenanyfreedoms(e.g.tobeindependentlymobileorplay
unsupervisedinnature).
However,ithasbeenemphasisedthatchildrenalonecannotexecutecomplex
designprocesses.Thefinaldecisionsmayneedtorestwithpractitionerswho
havespecialistknowledge(Iltus&Hart,1995;Mannion,2007).Inthisregard,
thechoiceofdesignpractitionerstoworkwithchildreniscrucialtothesuccess
oftheproject(Wake&Eames,2013)asisopencommunicationwithchildren
aboutthelimitationstotheirparticipation(Hill,2006).
24
Thereissomeresearchthatsupportschildrenascodesignerswithadultsin
schoolgroundgreeningprojects.Forexample,inmappingthegeographyof
placemakingwithchildrenthroughencouragementofdesignliteraciesinan
Australianschoolgardenproject,Green(2014)foundthatchildrenbecame
proficientindesignskillsandknowledgewhentheywereincludedinthe
designingandplanningoftheenvironmentswheretheylived.Thistransformed
theteachingandlearningintheschoolduetotheownershipchildrenfeltandthe
creativityandimaginationrequiredduringthedesignprocess.
Disappointingly,Green(2014)acknowledgesthatthereare,todate,few
examplesreportedofchildrenasdesignerswithinschoolgardendiscoursesand
shearguesforthelearningbenefitsofacodesignpartnershipbystatingthat:
“…designopportunitiesandprocessesexpandlearningenvironmentsthat
encouragechildren’screative,diverseandembodiedwaysofknowing”(p.192).
Thiscasestudyillustratesashiftinapproachwherebychildren’slearningwas
enhancedthroughempowerment.Italsorepresentsadeparturefrom
measuringbeingamathematicalorscientificendeavour,toadesignonewhere
drawing,mapping,modelling,plantingandbuildingforaestheticandpractical
solutionswereforegrounded.Itissuggestedbytheauthorsofthischapterthat
thisapproachwouldbefurtherenhancedthroughtheinclusionoflandscape
practitionerstoworkwithstudentsinprovidingauthenticandrelevant
environmentalexperiencesbothwithinschoolsandreachingoutintothewider
community.
Otherstudieshaveinvestigatedschoolgroundgreeningprojectswithastrong
‘codesignwithpractitioners’focus.OneUSAexampleisaprojectwithstudents
toestablishanecologicalhabitatforinformalplayinanareaadjacenttotheir
school(Derr&Rigolon,Inpress).Alsoinvolvedwasagroupofretiredadults
whovaluedthissitebecausetheyhadplayedthereintheiryouth.Theproject
utilisedparticipatoryprocessesincludingcodesignwithcityplannersand
collaborationwiththescepticalretirees,whowereeventuallywonoverbythe
project’sprocess.Inevaluatingtheprojectsuccess,DerrandRigolonattribute
25
significantcredittohavinganindependentorganisation(‘GrowingUpBoulder’,
inthiscase)tofacilitatecommunityandschoolengagement.
Thevalueofhavingintergenerationalcollaborationswithinspecialistprojects
likethisisalsohighlightedinresearchfromGreecethatinvestigatedschool
childrenengagingwithnativeplantconservation(ParaskevaHadjichambi,
Korflatis,Hadjichambis,&Arianoutsou,2012).Resultsindicatedruralchildren
identifiedthatnativeplantsrequiredfertiliserandwater,thesameascrop
plants.SimilarlytoresearchdiscussedearlierbyPayne(2014),thesechildren
sawnatureassomethingremovedfromhumanssotakentogetherthesefindings
signaltheimportanceofschoolgroundgreeningprojectsincludingareasof
domesticatedandnaturalhabitats,sochildrencanlearnthedifferencebetween
wildandcultivatedecosystems.Italsospeaksofhavingacommunityand
participatorylearningfocussothatexpertoutsidehelpcanbesought,plusgroup
responsibilitytowardsconservationinculcated.
Inanexamplethatseemstoexemplifythis,aNewZealandschoolground
greeningprojectrecentlyvisitedbytheauthorsofthischapterfeaturesstudents
aged912yearsoldworkingwithconservationists,designersandtheir
environmentalstudiesteachertoresearchtechniquesfordesigningand
constructinganecologicalislandintheirschoolgrounds.Thisisanareathat
excludespredatorsthroughisolation(e.g.throughbeingsurroundedbywateror
viainstallationofapredatorprooffence)sothatthreatenedwildlifecanbe
established.Theprojectoriginatedfromastudent’sideaandtheislandand
26
moathavebeenconstructedwithcommunityandstudentassistance.Abirdhide
andsciencecentremadeofrepurposedshippingcontainersisbeingfurbished
andplantingofnativetreespeciestocreateacanopyisoccurring(seeFigure3).
Thiswillbothprovideahabitatforbirdsandotherfauna,aswellasactingasa
connectingcorridorbetweengreenspaceswithinthecity.
Figure3:Theecologicalislandforencouragingandstudyingnativebiodiversity
–astudentledproject.Viewfromthebirdhideshowingdevelopmentofamoat
andnativetreecanopy.
Inafurtherexample,Smith(2011)portraysaUSAhighschoolforstudentswho
havefailedtolearninotherschools.Theschooltransformeditselfandstudents
throughaprocessofbothschoolandcommunitybasedecologicalandother
sustainabilitydrivenprojects.Usingprojectsthatfocusonfivedomainsof
sustainability:architecture;energy;water;forests;andagriculture;studentsare
empoweredtobringaboutpositiveenvironmental,socialandeconomicchange
withintheircommunities.Thisisdonethroughestablishmentofgardens,
restorationofhabitatsandbuildingofaffordable,sustainablehousingfor
students’families.Embeddedinthisisrecognitionthatchildren’slivesatschool
cannotbemuchimprovedunlesstheirhomeandfamilylivesaresecure.
Smith(2011)however,raisestheconcernthatthesuccessofthisproject,which
islargelydrivenbytheschoolprincipal,isleadingtoexpectationsthatmaynot
alwaysbemet.Thisreturnstotheissuediscussedinanearliersectionofthese
projects’relianceonthevisionandpassionofkeypeopleandthevulnerabilityof
projects,shouldthosesignificantpeopleleave.Itfurtherspeaksoftheneedto
involvewidernetworksofspecialistsandoverarchingresources,ratherthan
dependingonindividuals;inotherwordsembeddingsuchprojectsintothe
school’sculture,asidentifiedbyPassy(2014).Finally,itemphasizesthe
importanceofthesharedroleplayedbystudents,schoolbasedadultsandother
professionals,plusparents,inthedevelopmentofschoolgroundgreeningand
otherenvironmentalprojects.Itisproposedbytheauthorsofthischapterthat
thisprojectdescribedbySmith(2011)exemplifieslevelfourofUzzel’sschool
andcommunitypartnership,whereschoolsbecomeactiveagentsin
27
collaboratingwithcommunitytoinstigatechange(Flowers&Chodkiewicz,
2009).
Inconclusion,thesestudiesprovidevaluableinsightsintothepotentialfor
childrentobeactiveparticipantsinlearningthatgoesbeyond‘vege’gardening
(seeFigure4).Throughprocessessuchascodesignandpurposessuchas
ecosystemconservation,suchprojectsaimtoencouragechildrentofeel
connectedtonatureandtomakeproenvironmentaldecisionsintheirlives.
Figure4:Theecologicalislandprojectispartofschoolgroundgreeningata
schoolthathasdevelopeditsgroundsthrough‘vege’gardens,asseeninthe
foreground,toambitiousconservationprojects(inthebackground),towhich
studentsfeelownershipthroughtheirlearning,decisionmakingand
participation.
Summary
Particularlyinthelast10years,schoolgardensinmyriadformsbutoften
gardensofedibleandfloweringplants,havebeenenjoyingasignificant
renaissanceinmanycountries,asevidencedbymultiplepublishedexamplesand
studies.Akeyreasonforthisisthattheyareregardedasapanaceaforanumber
ofsocial,physicalandeducationalillsfacingchildren.However,schoolgardens
areusuallytenuouslypositionedwithinthewiderschoolenvironment,often
28
relyingonpassionandexpertiseofteachers,parentsandunpaidothersfortheir
sustainability.Thepressureisnowontojustifytheireducationalplacein
schoolsandthereforesecurereliablefundingsourcessince,whiletheymaybe
relativelycheapandeasytoinitiallyimplement(Passy,2014),theirlongterm
resourcerequirementsaresignificant(e.g.maintenancelabourandmaterials,
teacherknowledgeandskills),andtheirbenefitsforlearningnotdefinitively
established.
Inaworldwheremanychildrenhavediminishingopportunitiestoexperience
nature,schoolgardensarepotentiallyrichsitesforenvironmentallearningas
wellasofferingotherbenefitssuchasengenderingsocialinclusivityand
promotinghealthylifestyles.Whilemanyoftherationalesfortoday’sschool
gardensareominouslysimilartothoseforearliereraschoolgardens,which
werenotsustainable,thereisanimportantpointofdifference,whichAkerblom
(2004)summariseswellbyconcluding,“Theaimoftheschoolgardenhasthus
shiftedfrombeinganendtoameans”(p.246).Thiscommentidentifiesa
changeindesiredoutcomesfromeconomicproductstolearningexperiences.
Thismayhelpensuresurvivalofschoolgardens,especiallyifopportunitiesare
createdthatrecognisechildren’sfirsthandknowledgeoftheirschool
environmentsandtheircapabilityasdesignersanddecisionmakers.Thiscould
lead,forexample,tothemcodesigningwithprofessionalsandengagingin
communitycollaborationstocreateauthenticlearningopportunitiessuchasthe
developmentofvariedhabitatsincludingnativeareasandthosethatcontribute
togreenservicenetworkswithincities(e.g.corridorsforbirdandinsect
pollinatingmovementsorraingardensystemsforfilteringstormwaterrunoff).
Itishoweverrecommendedthatmoreresearchisneeded,firsttogather
baselinedataonthestatusofschoolgroundgreeningprojectswithingeographic
zones(e.g.areasofacity)andthentoestablishmethodsbywhichgreater
involvementofprofessionalssuchaslandscapearchitectscouldoccur.
Inconclusion,ithasbeenarguedinthischapterthatparticipatorylearning
approaches,codesignpracticesandprojectsthatextendbothlearningand
provisionofecosystemserviceswithinschoolenvironmentscouldtakeschool
29
gardensbeyondtheenvironmentallimitationof‘vege’gardensandwidenthe
learningfocustowardsparticipationwithprofessionalsandcommunity
stakeholdersinaholisticlandmanagementapproachthatpromotesenduring
guardianshipofthesespaces.Whileitisacknowledgedthat‘vege’gardenshave
valuablelearningpotential,analternativeapproachasproposedbytheauthors
ofthischaptercouldresultingreaterdurabilitythananisolatedgardenwithina
schoolthatisreliantonthecontinuedeffortsofafew.Further,thishasabetter
chancelongtermofdeepeningchildren’sconnectiontonaturethrough
transformativelearning,whichcontributestodevelopingresilientlearnerswho
arepoisedtobecomeflexible,futureguardiansoftheEarth.Thechapterhas
takenabroadapproachtoschoolgardensbyusingthemultidisciplinarylensof
children’sgeographies,whichprioritiseschildren’sperspectives.Orr(1994)
proposesthat“Alleducationisenvironmentaleducation...bywhatisincludedor
excludedweteachtheyoungthattheyarepartoforapartfromthenatural
world”(p.12,emphasisadded).Inasimilarway,schoolgardens,bythe
approachtheytakecanbepartoforapartfromchildren’senduring
environmentalexperiences.
Acknowledgments
CreditforFigure2:ChildrengardeningataschoolinWaianiwa.Hazledine,
PercivalCharles,18921954.Ref:1/1022125G.AlexanderTurnbullLibrary,
Wellington,NewZealand.
Allotherphotosweretakenbytheauthors.
Thankstoeditorsforreview,whichhasstrengthenedthethemeandcontentof
thischapter.
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... In the continuation of the paper, [16,[21][22] points out the research that identifies locational and financial difficulties and security barriers, such as the fear and concern for the pupils' health and safety (according to [18]). [19] provides an expansive overview of the history, meaning, and functions of school gardens. Among other things, they emphasize the role of adults, parents, the local community, and teachers. ...
... Among other things, they emphasize the role of adults, parents, the local community, and teachers. In this sense, the authors cite [13] (as cited in [19,19), who points out that teachers are the ones who are most often responsible for the work in school gardens and, in many ways, everything depends on them; their education is, therefore, of vital importance. ...
... Among other things, they emphasize the role of adults, parents, the local community, and teachers. In this sense, the authors cite [13] (as cited in [19,19), who points out that teachers are the ones who are most often responsible for the work in school gardens and, in many ways, everything depends on them; their education is, therefore, of vital importance. ...
... Considering the importance of children's learning and development processes in open spaces, school gardens should be well designed (Arabacı & Çıtak, 2017;Aslan, 2010;Basar, 2020;Cooper, 2015;Wake & Birdsall, 2016). Based on all these needs, this study aims to examine school gardens in a physical context as a learning environment. ...
... Çocukların açık alanlarda öğrenme ve gelişim süreçlerinin önemi düşünüldüğünde, okul bahçelerinin iyi tasarlanması gerekmektedir (Arabacı ve Çıtak, 2017;Aslan, 2010;Basar, 2020;Cooper, 2015;Wake & Birdsall, 2016) Tüm bu ihtiyaçlardan yola çıkılarak, bu araştırmada okul bahçelerinin öğrenme ortamı olarak fiziksel bağlamda incelenmesi amaçlanmaktadır. ...
... These activities provide children with ways to express their feelings and their way of thinking about the world, appropriate and intervene in reality, reproduce what they experience and promote social interaction (Oliveira and Silva, 2019). A tool with great educational and recreational potential is the school garden, since it allows multiple experiences and transformations, as well as addressing different curriculum content matters in a significant and contextualized way, tackling numerous areas of knowledge and affirming the concept of a sustainable culture (Arruda, 2009;Dyg and Wistoft, 2018;Wake and Birdsall, 2016). ...
... The field diary allowed the recording of descriptions of social phenomena, their explanations and the understanding of the entire situation under study (Kroef et al., 2020). Photography is a strategy that allows collecting memory archives in the field, facilitating the visual processes and subsequent the observational analysis without approximation to the groups' social reality (Tinkler, 2013). The choice of these tools was due to the research being qualitative, using the action research method and involving a pedagogical process, allowing a greater freedom during the collection and recording of data. ...
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... This was a precious experience for the students so that they felt dependence and connection to nature. Wake and Birdsall (2016) confirmed that school garden have a potential for deepening children's connection to nature. Moreover, according to Hoffman et al. (2007), gardening activities can develop a sense of interdependence and positive self-empowerment in faculty and students. ...
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... one of the ways that educators have attempted to counter this so-called deficit is by taking students outside to foster connectedness to nature and develop environmental literacy (Ardoin, Bowers, and Gaillard 2020;Barrable and Booth 2020;Smith, Dunhill, and Scott 2018;Sobel 2008). For example, there has been a surge in nature-based education (NBE) programs in the United States (Wake and Birdsall 2016). According to the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE 2017), there has been a 66% increase in nature-based preschools and forest kindergartens in the United States, with the programs now serving more than 10,000 children every year. ...
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