A school garden is a powerful environmental education tool. Through gardening, students become responsible caretakers. They have an opportunity to engage in agricultural practices on a small scale, learning about the responsibilities and impacts of land cultivation. They explore the web of interactions among the living and nonliving players that sustain life. By doing so, they develop a greater understanding of the natural world.

For many children, a garden offers the only chance to get close to nature. Some lack access to gardening spaces because of their living situations while others have limited exploratory free time in the outdoors due to the focus on indoor activities and participation in organized outdoor activities. School garden educators in urban environments frequently find their programs provide students’ first opportunity to dig into the soil and watch a plant grow.

Establishing a connection with nature at an early age is extremely important. Researchers discovered childhood experiences with nature are strongly linked to adult attitudes toward plants. They determined that participation in active gardening during childhood was the most important influence in explaining adult environmental attitudes and actions and concluded that even in urban areas where green spaces are limited, gardening programs for children can provide a strong enough connection to instill appreciation and respect for nature in adulthood.