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School Gardens Sonoma County

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The School Gardens Sonoma County (March 2012) report presents the results of a survey that was developed and conducted by the Sonoma County Food System Alliance, School Garden Network of Sonoma County, Sonoma State University, and Sonoma County Department of Health Services. The report provides an overview of school gardens in Sonoma County, and highlights the successes and challenges to creating and sustaining school gardens. The report is intended to be used as a planning tool for school gardens in Sonoma County and useful when viewed in conjunction with the Farm to School Sonoma County survey.

Project: Sonoma County Food System Alliance

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“Ag Innovations is an inspiring partner for work that’s game-changing in the way that communities—including farmers and the agriculture sector, philanthropic organizations, food security, food justice and culture organizations, food companies, and those linking environmentalism to economics to the future of food—are thinking about and identifying approaches to sustainable change. ”
Karen Karp, President, Karp Resources

Solutions

Studies have demonstrated that hands-on school gardening activities positively change attitudes about fruit and vegetable consumption, and that improved nutrition is linked to improvements in academic performance, test scores, and mental and emotional well being. In addition to the effects of school garden programs on dietary behaviors, health outcomes, and emotional well being, these programs also support experiential learning in many academic areas, enhanced appreciation of natural systems and the environment, and provide opportunities for cross-cultural and intergenerational experiences.

In light of the importance of school gardens, this survey found that in order to help school gardens in Sonoma County flourish, additional stakeholder involvement and innovative funding strategies are needed. Identified key highlights of the survey include:

  • Past or present garden activity
  • Use of gardens by respective grades
  • Barriers to garden implementation
  • Public charter schools with highest percentage of active gardens
  • Cost as number one challenge

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