One in nine Americans already relies on federal food stamps to help buy groceries – a startling number that will grow as unemployment rises. At the same time, medical spending on obesity – a major cause of diabetes, stroke and heart attacks – reached $147 billion in 2008, an 87 percent increase in a decade.
So, how much must a school garden be worth, as a long-term investment?
California is spending $65,000 (45,000 euros) per classroom seat in a schools rebuilding programme – but only $1 per child per year for garden upkeep and support.
Mud Baron, whose job is to help 500 L.A. schools develop gardens and nature projects, has fought a lonely battle to persuade planners and architects that contact with nature – not just buildings – is a crucual ingredient of a “green” school.
When Mud explained his campaign to a Doors of Perception workshop at The Planning Center, in February, we came up with the idea of re-labeling school gardens as “outside classrooms”; this would have resolved Mud’s resource problem at a stroke.

But the situation in California has deteriorated fast since then:The budget crisis has left countless teachers unemployed, and a $1.7-million grant to Los Angeles Unified School District for its Instructional School Garden Program has expired.
Mud’s boss has agreed to match the funds that Baron and his network can raise – if they reach $100,000. We don’t usually run campaign appeals here, but when the issue is schools + food + learning-to- grow: well, we simply have to make an exception.
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