Garden policy experts from across the nation will convene in Des Moines, Iowa, next month for a summit on the social, environmental and health benefits of gardening. The 2006 National Summit on Garden Policy, sponsored by Drake University’s Agriculture Law Center in cooperation with the National Gardening Association, is scheduled to meet Sept. 7-8, 2006 at Drake University.
The conference will focus on five areas: health, education, food, beauty and the environment. “Gardening is such a powerful tool because it offers people so many benefits,” said Neil Hamilton, director of Drake University’s Agriculture Law Center. “Everyone is equal when gardening. It provides people with a common way of communication and can be an entry point to many different civic discussions.”
During the conference, organizers plan to create a set of Principles for Garden Policy they hope will help enlighten people to see gardening as a means to create a better lifestyle for themselves and their communities.
One of the major issues to be discussed at the conference is increasing plant-based education in America’s schools. Hamilton said this “could have a profound effect on the health of the nation. By learning about plants and food production, students will achieve a greater understanding of the nutritional value of fresh produce,” Hamilton remarked.
He said teachers could easily incorporate gardening into math, science and social studies lessons. Hamilton said school gardens could also help boost student consumption of fruits and vegetables and promote healthier eating.
“Gardening also gives kids a sense of pride in their accomplishments and provides them with a way to improve and give back to the community,” Hamilton said.
Some of the other topics to be addressed during the two-day summit include The Future of Gardening in American Society; Gardening’s Contribution to America’s Wellness; Urban Gardens; and School Gardens and Educating Children.
For more information on the summit, go to www.nationalgardenmonth.org/index.php?page=garden_policy  or call (515) 271-2065.