2019 School Garden Survey

Each year, we do a School Garden Survey of teachers and principals to check in with our schools and determine if we are meeting their needs, and how we can do better. The results shown are from 149 teachers and administrators at 11 Maui County DOE schools.

Differences in the Program This Year

Grow Some Good introduced new curriculum this year with approximately 16 lessons per grade level that are mapped to Next Generation Science Standards. It was designed to be used as appropriate, not necessarily in order, and it provided a great framework for garden coordinators to use to align garden lessons with classroom learning.

Key Findings from the 2019 School Garden Survey

This annual School Garden Survey report shows that we had some gains in many areas, and there are still pockets where teachers and schools want more from Grow Some Good and our partner, Maui School Garden Network.

With regard to attributes that teachers observed among students, 88% of teachers reported seeing an increased interest in eating fruits and vegetables; up from 84% last year; 58% of teachers reported seeing an improved attitude towards school; up from 53% last year.

With regard to garden benefits in academics, we continue to excel in the areas of science, and health and nutrition, with 98% of teachers saying the garden benefits students in these areas.  79% of teachers said the garden benefits lessons in math, up from 56% last year; 87% of teachers said the garden benefits lessons in English/language arts, up from 69% last year; and 85% of teachers said the garden benefits lessons in Hawaiian Studies, up from 61% last year

Following is a report on the percentage of teachers who indicated on the School Garden Survey that they saw a benefit or change in students in the described areas.

Attributes Observed of School Garden Participants

87% Increased environmental attitude/attitudes
49% Increased community spirit and interest in volunteerism
52% Improved social skills/behaviors
88% Increased interest in eating fruits and vegetables
29% Improved motor skills
31% Academic gains
58% Improved attitude towards school

Comments about observed attributes:

  • The garden has been a great space to encourage mindfulness. It provides a silent spot for students to sit and observe the garden, and has been a huge benefit for students who need to learn how to self-regulate.
  • Their ability to work cooperatively has improved as well as more awareness of things/people around them. They are less egocentric after working in the garden.
  • Students work together to solve problems. I think they make more connections between nature and their academics.
  • Increased interest in agricultural careers.
  • Students are smiling and engaging with each other in a more positive, different way.

Student Behavior Benefits:

94%Students are learning new gardening skills
61%Students are more focused in classroom activities after being
in the garden
35%Students/parents are starting home gardens as result of school
garden program
39%Students have better attendance on garden class days
73%Students have improved attitudes with respect for others, and
demonstrate caring and nurturing behaviors

Comments about observed benefits:

  • Garden class gets my students outside with a purpose. Also, many live in condos so they may not have experience with growing food or caring for nature.  The garden coordinator and the outdoor classroom were exciting and the students learned about life cycles. Later in the year we were able to gather, care for and observe the life cycle of 11 butterflies! The kids were so excited. The garden coordinator got the students, even my picky eaters, to try new foods!
  • Students are learning to try new things as well as gaining a respect for nature and how things are grown.
  • Students LOVE garden class; learning how to be gardeners and appreciate nature more!
  • I have noticed that students know more about plants, gardening, etc when reading stories about such topics.
  • They have more respect for where their food comes from and a better understanding of Hawaiian culture in relation to specific foods in Hawaii.
  • Students are introduced to healthy foods they have never had before.
  • I love having the garden not only because of the beauty it brings to our campus, but the learning is tremendous!
  • Students make a connection that outdoors in the garden is another learning environment… not just inside the classroom.
  • Kids enjoy the hands-on aspect and they learn how to synergize with each other.
  • Students discover that trying new things (even when muddy or ‘yucky’ or buggy) isn’t as scary as they originally thought. Now students are more interested in giving things a try whereas before – they were very hesitant.
  • They (students) are kinder to bugs, because they know they help the plants.

Core Curriculum Benefits

  Topic Extremely
Beneficial
Beneficial Somewhat
Beneficial
Total
Benefit
Math 15% 35% 29% 79%
Science 60% 31% 7% 98%
English/
Language Arts
19% 37% 31% 87%
Hawaiian Studies 37% 31% 17% 85%
History/Social Studies 23% 35% 23% 81%
Health and Nutrition 69% 27% 3% 98%

Comments about Core Curriculum

  • Target a couple science standards for each grade level.
  • Perhaps assign some take home papers or readings to extend the learning and work on addressing ELA CCSS.
  • Students would enjoy having more tasting sessions.
  • Gardening can be related to nearly all core curriculum classes in varied presentation aspects.
  • Encourage more core teachers to get involved.
  • The collaboration and communication time with certain grade levels will help with the execution of lessons and garden integration with the curriculum and place/project-based learning.
  • Implement more math and reading or writing into the garden.
  • Having time for the students to visit the garden to do other content area skills. Writing stories and connecting math to the garden.
  • Keep building lessons that support NGSS.

Non-Core Subjects

To the best of your knowledge and observation, which of the following non-core subjects are taught in the garden?

  • 93% Health and Nutrition
  • 86% Environmental Studies
  • 77% General Learner Outcomes (GLO)
  • 71% Agricultural Studies
  • 61% Home Ec/Cooking
  • 55% Service Learning / Community Service
  • 52% Art
  • 20% Physical Education
  • 12% Special Education

General Comments to the School Garden Survey

  • We are very happy with GSG & MSGN in our school. Thank you very much.
  • I’m not sure (how to improve), this program is fantastic! Keep up the great work!
  • I’ve only been once (to the garden) and from that one time, I’ve realized how beneficial it is for the students. I would like to design lessons around it to connect it with my content.
  • Every time a student goes to garden, they bring veggies or cooked food back. They really enjoy eating and sharing the food with their teachers (even their core teachers).
  • Our teachers’ involvement with the garden and value for the ‘aina has greatly increased in the last few years. Our teachers are starting their own beds with their students and prioritizing project and placed based learning through doing in the garden.
  • My students are all eager to participate in garden. We go at the end of the day, and my students perk right up. They are engaged in the content and ready to dive into the dirt, even the ones who said they don’t like getting dirty!
  • We need to have our garden coordinator continue his/her work in the garden and deliver the relevant and important lessons to our students.
  • Our garden time is the highlight of our week.

Improvement Suggestions

  • It would be nice if students could go out to the garden more often.
  • Could we allot more time per class? Or could we include discussion/lesson time in the classroom, so they are more prepared for the hands-on experience?
  • Create a small activity book (on recycled paper). 
  • Provide a regular lawn maintenance person
  • Provide extension activities to classroom teachers.
  • We are very happy with GSG & MSGN in our school. Thank you very much.
  • Introduce local produce. Helping to minimize food waste from the cafeteria is a concern for me. Students often don’t eat much of what is served.
  • Help us to build more gardens at our school :).
  • Provide PD for how teachers can utilize the garden outside of their dedicated garden class time.

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