Eat This, Shut Up and Dig

School Garden Army: An Idea Worth Reviving?

Schoolgardenarmy Here’s an idea developed by none other than the National War Garden Commission, organized shortly before the United States entered World War I:

In a letter entitled "The Duty of the Schools," J. H. Francis, director of The United States School Garden Army wrote:

There is a mighty army of boys and girls, thirty to fifty million strong, who have heads, hearts and hands, leisure time and patriotism to spare. There are also hundreds of thousands of acres of tillable land uncultivated……Superintendents of schools must make their schools a vital, an actual, force in giving more food to the world and in conserving what is produced….Through the school children we can make the undertaking not merely immediately productive, but a permanent factor in American life as well…

Superintendents of schools must make their schools a vital, an actual, force in giving more food to the world and in conserving what is produced. They must do this in addition to talking and writing about this somewhat spectacular and highly interesting phase of the school’s part in the war.

Via Earthly Pursuits.

Posted by on September 11, 2006 at 6:22 am, in the category Eat This, Shut Up and Dig.
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5 responses to “School Garden Army: An Idea Worth Reviving?”

  1. susan says:

    very on point for me, Amy, since I’m meeting today with other DC Master Gardeners and a big topic will be how can we support school gardens and create more of them?
    Anybody out there know of an URBAN Master Gardener program somewhere that I can talk to? Here in DC we’re just starting out and need all the networking help we can get. Susan

  2. John Curtin says:

    See what is happening over here in the UK on the school front and the efforts of Garden Organic (HDRA)to involve children
    http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk

  3. Jane says:

    this is very timeliy for me too as I have just been appoiinted school grounds co-ordinator for the Parents Teachers Association at my daughters school! I have looked at the HDRA website and it is very strong on how garden activities can fulfill the requirements of the National Curriculum (I remember, when I was an art gallery curator, writing similar fact sheets about how a visit to an art gallery could be used to tick the right boxes for maths, english etc.)
    What I found less of was the hard practicalities – the children began to plant up some of the playground beds and made living willow sculptures last year but over the summer holidays someone has been and dug up all the plants and jumped on the willow.
    Still all the curriculum fact sheets are what will convince the teachers that the gardening is worth the time.
    Can anyonme suggest some really innovative school schemes.
    The food programme in BBC Radio 4 was about how knowing where your food comes from – either by growing it or knowing the farmer – makes you measurably happier.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/foodprogramme.shtml
    That should be more to the point than counting the weeds or measuring the beds.

  4. “There is a mighty army of boys and girls, thirty to fifty million strong, who have heads, hearts and hands, leisure time and patriotism to spare. There are also hundreds of thousands of acres of tillable land uncultivated……”

    It was the phrase “leisure time” that interested me. Since my kids are adults, you’ll have to tell me whether what I’ve read in various articles is true, that today’s school children have completely full schedules both in school and once they leave, with no room for new projects. Do you see that in your own families?

    One of our local schools has a nice butterfly garden made by students a few years ago. It’s placed near the entrance drive and made with drought-tolerant plants for butterflies – no “tillable” land there. The property is filled with the school building and mobiles, the driveway where the kids are dropped off, a playground, parking lot, ball field, etc., so this is probably as big as any planting project could get.

    The main focus of school gardens today is education about where food comes from rather than food production, but here’s a group that is trying something closer to the WW One idea – this is a 2002 article about orchards on school property in Austin. http://www.homegrowntexas.com/issues/SeptOct02/index.html

    Annie in Austin

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