An Iowa Policy Project report suggests just a few Iowa school districts maintain gardens as a way of teaching students about plant life and raising food for the cafeteria. Jenna Ladd, a research intern for the Iowa Policy Project, is the report’s author and she says gardening is also good aerobic exercise.
“It’s a great way to build community,” Ladd says, “just doing things together, growing food together, watching this project go from start to finish together.”
However, Ladd could only find 40 Iowa schools with gardening projects for students. She expects others may exist, but those gardens likely are privately run and financed. Ladd, who is a junior at the University of Iowa, works on a community garden in Iowa City.
“Many of our members didn’t grow up on farms, might not have any experience gardening prior to college, including myself, but you know really understand the environmental implications of shipping food from across the country,” Ladd says. “And so there’s something very empowering about being able to grow your own food and knowing that you’re not causing the Earth harm by bringing it in from elsewhere.”
Ladd’s Iowa Public Policy report calls for state-funding for school gardening projects, including $250 for seeds, compost and tools for each student as well as a thousand dollars for the adult who is the garden organizer.
“Providing education for children at a young age about the environment increases the likelihood they’ll be environmental stewards in the future,” Ladd says, “and I think with what we’re facing as a state and as a country in terms of climate change that’s becoming increasingly important.”
A 26-member White House Task Force on Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency has been meeting in Des Moines this week. The group of state, local and tribal leaders are to make recommendations to the president.