Effects of community gardens

Written by Tessa Whitby

In order to mold young minds into forward-thinking citizens, who are sustainably responsible while moving into adult life and the corporate world, it is essential to reshape the ways we guide them to grow, survive, and thrive. Classroom or community garden projects, as part of their education path, offer an outlet that arms our future generations with both the emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills necessary to make informed decisions towards changes, and to improve the quality of life for future generations. As the necessity for greater sustainable customs becomes more obvious globally, so does the value of integrating sustainable development and forward-thinking within the education system, and taking action within local communities. The good news is that through project-based learning, and relevant education pedagogies, individuals are able to explore and learn about environmental and social issues not only on a local scale, but beyond to a national, and global scale as well.  

The ripple effects of acting locally allow for individuals to first learn deeply about their own basic needs, and inevitably lead to a greater understanding of the needs in their immediate community, as well as the environment around them. Forward-thinking on a local level allows balance within small-scale economic structures, job security, and environmental impacts. Introducing urban agriculture projects into community spaces, and schools, such as community gardens, offers possibilities that can help manifest realistic goals for the future through collective leadership, and envision solutions further than just an immediate supply and demand. (source) 

Garden projects in a classroom setting offer a unique, multidisciplinary, STEAM approach to learning, and problem-solving, by combining solution-oriented thinking for the future with an interactive experience. Growing sustainable mindsets beyond the classroom into adulthood means offering students essential social and emotional learning skills that they need to prepare for success in the future, through meaningful hands-on experiences. Within each of the academic disciplines, students adopt overarching eco-conscious goals within each area of study that can help lead to the expansion of green careers in their futures. (source) 


How can hydroponic garden projects promote innovative thinking for communities? 

Attaining sustainable solutions on a global scale requires creative activity and education on a local level. By exploring the local context of health and environmental issues, both individuals and communities are able to learn how their local eco-footprint is connected to larger ones. This model personalizes student learning for a more lasting effect. By first focusing on the social, economic, and environmental needs of local communities, we can better envision the ways to approach more effective practices on a larger scale.  

While a simple classroom or community garden may not be a direct solution to some of the more complicated socio-economic issues that we now face, such as climate changes, it is a big step in the right direction. By reframing the way young individuals and students think about the needs of future generations and the planet, we are able to create an inventive space where new ideas can be harvested for a greater global benefit. It is the collective efforts of communities taking initiative, and the ways the younger generations are educated, that will lead to lasting and realistic global action. 


How can we reframe the way we think about complex global issues moving forward and get a real impact? 

Encouraging individuals to look at global crises through a local lens allows us to better address the specific needs that vary between communities, nations, and cultures. Community garden projects can help to enforce skills that allow us to reimagine better long-term solutions for widespread problematic environmental and social issues on manageable scales. 

Consider the following issues and the ways they may differ in specific outcomes from community to community 


Climate Crisis 

Critical thinking skills are essential in the battle against the consequences of climate changes, global warming, reliance on fossil fuels, and the decline in biodiversity. Navigating toward solutions means understanding the path that has led us to the problem. By looking at environmental issues through a local lens, participants are able to connect them to the larger problems at hand. In order to take on the complicated problems the world faces, it is first essential to examine how climate crisis problems take effect on local levels and promote sustainable practices into communities. 


Health and Nutrition 

In light of the COVID pandemic in recent years, there is certainly a rise in the public interest in understanding health and the body on a more comprehensive level. Classroom garden and community garden projects offer a way for individuals and students to dive deep into the science of nutrition and help them to better understand how localized, organic nutrition can help to avert some of the chronic health conditions that develop, or worsen with poor diets. By rebuilding perspectives on health and nutrition, it becomes possible to steer young minds toward lifestyles that embrace preventative health vs. curative care. (source) 


Food Security 

While a classroom, or community garden might not be quite enough to solve the magnitude of the food security crisis, it does offer essential tools to help reimagine a more effective food system that better supports the economy, basic life needs, health, and the environment. It is important to acknowledge, that in many highly developed urban areas, healthy food sources are not always accessible or affordable. Hydroponic gardens offer a tangible solution for urban areas to better learn how to utilize space and resources by organizing layers of produce, using easy-to-manage, soilless garden techniques.  


Education and Future Career Path Goals

Preparing students for the job force can be difficult when it is challenging to define exactly what jobs will be relevant for the future. Adapting project-based learning through classroom or community gardens offers a unique way to nurture a future-ready mindset rooted in problem-solving and critical thinking. With schools and education at the heart of every community, it is vital to consider new outlets where young people can harness the power of action. (source) 

 Now, more than ever, it is essential for educators to “prepare students for their future, not for our past” (David Thornburg). By reshaping how students and communities are prepared to process these complex issues facing our world, we can uncover and expand the creation of green career paths for the future, and adopt new sustainable practices. The workforce of tomorrow will be made up of sustainably motivated individuals, who can work collaboratively, and problem solve. Career options will continue to evolve and grow with endless possibilities for: 

  • Urban Agriculture/ Farmers 
  • Chefs 
  • Nutritionists  
  • Food Industry 
  • Health Professionals 
  • Engineers 
  • Architects 
  • Policymakers and leaders 
  • Entrepreneurs 
  • Writers 
  • Teachers 
  • Science and research 
  • Technology 
  • Renewable energy  
  • And career pathways yet to be defined! 


Want to learn more about Vireo’s hydroponic garden project? 

The Vireo hydroponic garden is an educational project that offers schools and community spaces an outlet to learn how to reframe the future through critical thinking and sustainable practices. By dedicating a space for this indoor garden in your classroom, or community, students will learn how to become solution-oriented citizens. The time for forward-thinking toward a green future is now. 

Contact us to find out more about how you can integrate sustainable practices awareness and forward-thinking into your community space or classroom through project-based learning.