In 1995, California state superintendent of education Delaine Easton pledged that each school in California would someday grow a garden. With research showing that children who plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat healthy food, gardens are seen as a frontline response to the obesity epidemic. Additionally, kids who are exposed to environment-based education score higher on standardized tests than students who aren’t. That’s why, in 2006, California allotted $15 million to “starting and sustaining” school garden programs. And where state budget support ends, sometimes community grants and corporations kick in: Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, for example, funds a growing number of school gardens as part of its efforts to encourage physical activity and healthful lifelong nutrition.
Today, more than a third of California’s some 9,000 public schools have a plot of food space.