Cultivating Growth: Giving Garden opens up Georgia middle school students to “therapeutic oasis” of gardening

Through the hands-on Giving Garden program, a group of middle school students are growing a sense of self-sustainability, cultivating their community outreach potential, and at the same time, reaping the therapeutic benefits of horticulture. The Georgia Farm Monitor brings us the story from Lake View Middle School in Katusa County, Ga.

Students at Lake View Middle School in Katusa County, Georgia have discovered solace and learning in an unexpected place—the “Giving Garden.” This special project, coined as “an oasis for students needing extra attention,” not only teaches the therapeutic benefits of horticulture but also nurtures a sense of self-sustainability.

According to Jessica Tatum, a school counselor and one of the masterminds behind the Giving Garden, horticultural therapy is a great way to provide students with a necessary mid-day break in the fresh air. It provides tangible sensations, hands-on activities, and the calming effects of gardening offer a unique outlet, particularly for students with attention-related challenges like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Beyond its therapeutic aspects, the Giving Garden serves a crucial role in teaching students about developing a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Tatum recognizes the significance of this education, considering that many students at Lake View Middle School may not have regular access to fresh and nutritious foods.

Becky Carson, the site coordinator with Communities In Schools at LMS, who runs the school’s Garden group, highlights the exceptional participation and enthusiasm shown by the students. The garden has become a weekly highlight for the kids, with even those not officially part of the program expressing eagerness to join and contribute.

The Giving Garden is more than a place for students to get outside and work with their hands. It also provides them with an outlet to give back to their peers and the community. Since participants are also given the authority to decide what to do with the produce they harvest, the project also fosters teamwork, compromise, and a sense of pride in contributing to their community.

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