A total of 100 Learning Gardens will be in Schools this Year to Provide Students with Hands-on Nutrition and Science Education Opportunities

Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited the 75th new learning garden installed at Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Elementary School, which is part of the Mayor’s larger plan to increase access to learning gardens to infuse healthy habits, reverse trends in childhood obesity and diabetes, improve academic performance, and strengthen communities. 100 learning gardens are being installed this year in schools across this City using $1 Million in NATO Legacy Funds.

“Learning gardens prepare our students for success in the classroom and beyond by instilling at an early age an appreciation of interactive learning and biology as well as creating a strong nutritional foundation that will serve them their entire life,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “The students here at Jahn Elementary and throughout the City now have access to more fresh produce, open space, and a proven program to improve student achievement and healthy eating habits.”

According to scientific research, sixth-grade students in a garden-based nutrition education program increased fruit and vegetable consumption by 2.5 servings/day, more than doubling overall fruit and vegetable consumption. Also, fifth grade students who participated in hands-on science lessons in a school garden scored 15 points higher on science tests on 100 point scale than students who learned in a typical classroom.

Organized and implemented by the nonprofit organization The Kitchen [Community] (TKC), the gardens bring together parents, teachers, and community organizations to support student learning and provide students with hands-on nutrition and science education opportunities. The Kitchen Community has combined the experience of 8 years of school gardens in Colorado, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, and Arkansas to create Learning Gardens, permanent organic vegetables garden and experiential learning environment on a school playground.

The Learning Gardens are simple to create. The process engages the community by providing the school with the modular components to lay out their garden. The modular, organically shaped design allows for gardens as small as 500 square feet and as large as 3,000 square feet, on soil, concrete, rooftops or on gravel.

On top of Jahn Elementary, Learning Gardens have been installed at the following schools: Burr Elementary, Juarez High School, Lavizzo Elementary, Miles Davis Elementary, Ruiz Elementary, Woodson Middle School, Community Christian Academy, Dawes Elementary School, Dunbar Elementary School, Greene Elementary School, Grimes Elementary School, Linne Elementary, Simeon High School, Southside Elementary, West Surburban Montessori, Westcott Elmentary, Armstrong Elementary, Beasley Elementary, Brooks College Prep Academy, Budlong Elementary, Burley Elementary, Byrne Elementary, Calmeca Elementary, Chavez Elementary, Disney I Elementary, Disney II Elementary, Edwards Elementary, Fenger Academy, Gary Comer Youth Center, Hampton Elementary, Haugen Magnet Elementary, Hearst Magnet, Legal Prep Charter Academy, Lindblom Academy, Marshall High School, McAuliffe Elementary, Morrill Math &Science Academy, Palmer Elementary, Plamondon Elementary, Rogers Elementary, Roosevelt High School, Skinner West elementary, Skinner North Elementary, Spencer Tech, Tarft High School, Taylor Elementary, Velma Thomas Early Childhood, Brenneman Elementary, Cather Elementary, Clinton Elementary, Courtenay @ Stockton Elementary, Dulles Elementary, Gregory Elementary, Harte Elementary, Hefferen Elementary, I. Wells @Mayo Elementary, Kilmer Elementary, Lee Elementary, M. Jackson Elementary, O. Thorpe Elementary, Peck Elementary, Peirce Elementary, Pershing East @ Pershing West Elementary, Pulaski Elementary, Sumner Elementary, Wentworth @ Altgeld Elementary, Ray elementary, Englewood Elementary, Gillespie Elementary, Medero Elementary, South Loop Elementary, and Neil Elementary.

Learning Gardens are part of the Mayor’s overall investments in students. Yesterday, the Mayor announced that Teacher in the Library program is now offered at all 80 Library locations. With the addition of online tutoring, the Chicago Public Library’s homework assistance program is now the largest and most comprehensive in the nation. The Mayor also pushed for a full school day starting in kindergarten, a full school year for every CPS student, and more high quality education options tailored to the specific needs of every child with more access to early education seats, IB, STEM, and strong neighborhood schools.

Photo Caption: Mayor Emanuel joins students to help build the 75th new learning garden at Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Elementary School.

Photo Credit: Brooke Collins // City of Chicago