A.8.Promoting Social Justice Through Garden-Based Education_ Lessons from UrbSTEAM Project

Garden-based education has the power to promote social justice by providing equitable access to transformative learning experiences that foster environmental awareness, cultural diversity, and community empowerment. The UrbSTEAM project exemplifies how garden-based education can serve as a catalyst for social justice by prioritizing inclusivity, equity, and empowerment in kindergarten settings. This article explores the lessons learned from the UrbSTEAM project and offers insights into how garden-based education can promote social justice in early childhood settings.

In the UrbSTEAM project, emphasis is placed on creating inclusive learning environments where all children, regardless of background or ability, can actively participate and thrive. By designing accessible garden spaces, providing diverse learning materials, and incorporating culturally relevant activities, educators ensure that every child feels valued and supported in their learning journey.

Garden-based education has the potential to empower marginalized communities by providing opportunities for community engagement, leadership development, and collective action. In the UrbSTEAM project, educators work collaboratively with families, community organizations, and local stakeholders to co-create garden spaces that reflect the needs and values of the community. By involving children and families in garden planning, decision-making, and maintenance, educators empower them to take ownership of their learning and advocate for positive change in their communities.

Garden-based education promotes environmental and food justice by addressing inequities in access to green spaces, healthy food, and educational opportunities. In the UrbSTEAM project, educators emphasize the importance of connecting children to the food they eat and the land it comes from, fostering a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of food systems and ecosystems. By engaging children in activities such as gardening, cooking, and composting, educators empower them to make informed choices about food, health, and sustainability.

Garden-based education provides opportunities for children to learn about different cultures, traditions, and ways of knowing. In the UrbSTEAM project, educators incorporate culturally relevant activities, stories, and celebrations into garden-based learning experiences, honoring the diverse backgrounds and identities of children and families. By promoting cultural competence and respect, educators help children develop empathy, understanding, and appreciation for cultural diversity.


Garden-based education has the potential to promote social justice by creating inclusive learning environments, empowering marginalized communities, cultivating environmental and food justice, and building cultural competence and respect. By drawing lessons from initiatives such as the UrbSTEAM project, educators can harness the transformative power of garden-based education to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world for all.


[1] Agyeman, J. (2013). Introducing Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning, and Practice. Zed Books.

[2] Payne-Sturges, D. C., & Gee, G. C. (2006). National Environmental Health Measures for Minority and Low-Income Populations: Tracking Social Disparities in Environmental Health. Environmental Research, 102(2), 154–171.