Autism and Gardening

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Benefits of gardening with children diagnosed with autism:

  • Gardens engage the senses without being over stimulating. Children can explore different colors, textures, smells, and sounds in a calming, natural setting.
  • Gardening provides opportunities for children to hone gross and fine motor skills.
  • Gardening allows for repetitive activities, yet still offers some challenge by providing constant change. You can establish a comforting routine (gather needed tools, check on the plants, pull a few weeds, water, etc.), but there will be subtle changes to engage the curiosity of the child with each visit such as ripening tomatoes, new insects to observe, flower buds opening, and leaves changing colors.
  • Gardening is an activity that can be shared. There are many opportunities for positive social interaction and teamwork.

Children with autism bloom in programs that couple inviting garden spaces with appropriately designed horticultural therapy activities. “Many children with autism are calmer and not as anxiety-ridden in the garden space,” shares Gwenn Fried, Manager of Rusk Horticultural Therapy Services at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, NY.

Salsa Garden

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Growing a salsa garden is an easy and delicious way to spotlight cultural history and teach about nutritious foods.

Changing the World, One Garden at a Time

When PS 41 in Greenwich Village, New York was chosen to receive one of the National Gardening Association’s Adopt a School Garden grants sponsored by Organic Valley, parent volunteer Vicki Sando could not have imagined that their container garden that’s maintained by the Kindergarten class, would turn into a nearly

Companion Planting

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Download related lesson plan Growing Garden Companions.

Arranging crops so they complement each other in some way is known as companion planting. Plants that have different requirements — for nutrients, sunlight, and space, for instance — often make good garden buddies. Because they are unlikely to compete for resources, you can plant them close together to save space. What's more, some combinations can actually help one or more of the companions flourish. Consider the following factors:

The Healing Power of Plants

From natural disasters to acts of senseless violence, this fall we were reminded that despite our best efforts, the children in our lives cannot be completely shielded from pain and loss. Even if evil events do not unfold directly in our own lives, in our digital society, we share experiences in very personal ways via mass media and the Internet.

Gardening with Kids Shop

The Gardening with Kids Shop is a special part of the National Gardening Association developed to support our mission of promoting home, school, and community gardening as a means to renew and sustain the essential connections between people, plants, and our environment.

Growing Food

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Download a sample lesson plan, "The Producers," from Growing Food

Ask your students to tell you where our food comes from. Do they respond with a restaurant or a grocery store name? Do they suggest it is made in a factory? What about on a farm? Do any of your students hint about our food supply's connection to nature and our environment?

Plant it Forward

Youth gardens offer many opportunities for gardeners to give back to their community. Drawing from the concept of “Pay It Forward,” by which a person who has received a gift repays it by giving a gift to another instead of the original donor, encourage your young gardeners this year to “Plant It Forward.” Here are a few ideas to consider:

Plant a Thankful Gardener

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Download this month's lesson plans:

Pressed Flower Thank-you Notes

Tree ID

Thanking volunteers and sponsors is an important activity for all youth garden programs. Although appreciation for contributions should be shown year round, Thanksgiving, a holiday rooted in the celebration of harvest, is a great time to present your loyal supporters with a special gift to acknowledge their generous donations of time, talents and funds.

Youth Garden Spotlight: Twelve Stones CDC Community Garden

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Having had a mild winter, the Twelve Stones Community Garden kicked-off their first youth garden in February 2012. Students jumped at the chance to get raised beds started, filling them with soil and making plant selections.

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Kids Gardening and the National Gardening Association actively work with schools and communities across the country to provide educational resources and build gardens to promote health, wellness, and sustainability.


Copyright © 1999-2014 National Gardening Association     | &      |     Created on 03/15/99, 

Last updated on 09/23/2014
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