School Gardens:


School Gardens:
A Report Upon Some Cooperative Work With the Normal Schools of Washington, With Notes on School-Garden Methods Followed in Other American Cities

Source of Digital Item

National Agricultural Library


school gardens


During the past few years there has been a growing interest in school garden work in this country. While the movement here is comparatively new, it has for a long time been a feature of the educational work in continental Europe. It is obvious that no set rules can be laid down for the management of a school garden. In the heart of a city the work may be an entirely different thing from what it is in a rural or semirural district. In the city the main idea may be an aesthetic one, combined with moral and physical training. The general trend of the work in this country is practical, so that its application will eventually have more or less effect on our industrial development. Manual training has been made a feature in many of our schools, and no one will deny that valuable results have been obtained from it.

Agriculture in its broadest sense is the primary basis of wealth in this country, and it seems essential that efforts should be made in our educational system to bring early to the mind of the child facts which will be of value as emphasizing the importance and necessity of agricultural work. There is no better way to do this than through a well-managed and well-conducted system of school garden training. Aside from the fact that the interest of the child is early awakened in an industry which means much to the future prosperity of this country, there is often a broader application of the work in its moral effect on the child. Then, the work is valuable in broadening lines of thought, enlarging the scope of the child's observation, and improving its physique. It has been well said that — In the school garden the fact should always be kept prominent that the pupil is to be the most active factor. We can put things in his way to help him develop properly and keep him from some of the things that fail so to help him. but we cannot do his developing for him, and if he is to have a knowledge of the elementary principles of life, of industry, of mankind, of beauty and justice, lie must grow into these things by means of first-hand experience with them. To obtain this growth and to eliminate some undesirable things in the school, the school garden should certainly prove efficient.

The Bureau of Plant Industry naturally has been much interested in this movement through the contact of its workers with the educational movement generally. Efforts haye been made to arouse interest in school gardens through various publications, but primarily through the distribution of seed. When the work of handling and distributing the Congressional seed was turned over to the Bureau of Plant Industry, four or five years ago, it was conceived that good might result from a modification of some of the methods of distributing this seed. Efforts have been made from time to time to arouse interest on the part of members of Congress who have large city constituencies and who might be able to encourage the school garden movement through the distribution of seed specially prepared for the purpose. Many million packages of seed have been distributed in this way in the larger cities, and some of these cases will be specifically referred to in the accompanying report.

In connection with the schools of the District of Columbia opportunities were afforded for putting into practice plans in reference to this work which have been under consideration for some time. Early in the work it was found that progress would necessarily be slow, from the fact that the public school teachers had never had any practical training in either horticulture or agriculture. To obviate this difficulty the active sympathy of those in charge of the normal school work in the District of Columbia was secured. Some elementary lectures were delivered by officers of the Bureau of Plant Industry to the students, and this led eventually to a broadening of the work. By direction of the Honorable Secretary, opportunities were afforded these students on the grounds of the Department of Agriculture. A small greenhouse was assigned for the purpose, and under the direction of Miss Susan B. Sipe, who has charge of the botanical work at Normal School No. 1, active investigations were inaugurated. This work has been highly successful, as shown in the report prepared by Miss Sipe.

This year the Department furnished facilities for Normal School No. 2 (colored) of Washington, D. C., to carry on the same general line of work inaugurated by Miss Sipe. This work was under the management of Miss Sara W. Brown and has been very satisfactory.


Galloway, B. T.




Office of Experiment Stations Bulletin Number 160


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