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School fruit & vegetable gardens

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Educators Local Government State Government Grantmakers
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

School gardens are generally on school grounds, and allow students to garden during school or non-school hours with school staff guidance. School gardens are typically accompanied by nutrition education, food preparation lessons, and fruit and vegetable tasting opportunities. School gardens can also provide students with hands-on learning opportunities in subjects like science, math, health, and environmental studies.       

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased willingness to try fruits & vegetables
Increased fruit & vegetable consumption
Improved nutrition
Reduced obesity rates
Increased physical activity
Improved health-related knowledge
Enhanced academic instruction

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that school gardens increase participating children’s vegetable consumption and willingness to try new vegetables (AHA-Mozaffarian 2012Langellotto 2012, Scherr 2013, Ratcliffe 2011, Parmer 2009, McAleese 2007, Rauzon 2010). Establishing school gardens is also a recommended strategy to promote healthy eating, improve nutrition, and reduce obesity (CDC-School-based obesity prevention, CDC MMWR-School health guidelines 2011, CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011, IOM-Government obesity prevention 2009). 

Gardening increases vegetable consumption among children; research suggests this may be because it increases access to vegetables and decreases children’s reluctance to try new foods (Langellotto 2012, Scherr 2013, McAleese 2007, Rauzon 2010, Ratcliffe 2011, Parmer 2009). Garden-based nutrition intervention programs have also been shown to increase health-related knowledge, willingness to taste, and preference for fruits and vegetables in schools around the country (Cotugna 2012, Robinson-OBrien 2009, Blair 2009, Ozer 2007, Koch 2006, Morris 2001, Morris 2002, Morgan 2010, Gatto 2012, Jaenke 2012, Dirks 2005). School garden participation can also increase elementary school children’s moderate and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during the school day (Wells 2014).

Research suggests that short-term after school gardening activities are less effective at changing children’s fruit and vegetable preference and consumption than year-long in school programs (O'Brien 2006, Poston 2005). Students participating in a school garden program as part of a multi-component intervention that includes activities such as farmers’ visits to schools, taste testing, field trips to farms, in-class lessons, and farm to school programs have greater increases in fruit and vegetable knowledge, preference, and intake than students participating in school gardens alone (Evans 2012a).

School gardens can also enhance academic instruction (Graham 2005a, Graham 2005) at the middle and possibly elementary school level (Klemmer 2005, Pigg 2006). 

Implementation

United States

Most states have schools with school gardens (NASBE-Competitive foods, Kidsgardening.org). State departments of education, departments of agriculture, and university extension programs can actively encourage school gardening; examples include: California (CDE-Gardens), Florida (FL DOE-Gardens), South Carolina (SCDA-SC F2I), and Louisiana (LSU-Ag Center). 

Wisconsin

There are a number of youth-focused gardens in Wisconsin, including: Troy Gardens (Community GroundWorks) and Waisman Discovery Garden in Madison (Waisman Garden). The Wisconsin Department of Health Services provides support to school gardens through its “Got Dirt? Gardening Initiative” (WI DHS-Got Dirt) and the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative is increasing the number of sustainable gardens at schools, after-school sites, and childcare centers across Wisconsin (WSGI). Over 30 WI schools are listed in the Kidsgardening.org register (Kidsgardening.org).

Implementation Resources

ChangeLab-SGP 2013 - ChangeLab Solutions. Serving school garden produce (SGP) in the cafeteria. 2013. Accessed on December 9, 2015
ESP-Resources - The Edible Schoolyard Project (ESP). Resources and tools: The Edible Schoolyard Network connects educators around the world to build and share a K-12 edible education curriculum. Accessed on December 9, 2015
HOST-Healthy eating - Healthy Out-of-School Time (HOST) Coalition. Resources: Healthy eating. Accessed on March 7, 2016
Kidsgardening.org - KidsGardening. Helping young minds grow. Accessed on February 4, 2016
LHC-Rockeymoore 2014 - Rockeymoore M, Moscetti C, Fountain A. Rural Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit. Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC). 2014. Accessed on June 16, 2017
Life Lab-Resources - Life Lab Science Program. School garden resources: Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education. Accessed on December 9, 2015
NASBE-Competitive foods - National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Competitive foods in school. Accessed on March 1, 2016
Slow Food-SGG 2013 - Slow Food USA. School garden guide (SGG): Build. Grow. Learn. 2013. Accessed on December 9, 2015
USDA-Dig in - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Dig in! Standards-based nutrition education from the ground up. Accessed on February 6, 2017
USDA-Garden detective - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The great garden detective adventure: A standards-based gardening nutrition curriculum for grades 3 and 4. Accessed on February 16, 2017
WI DHS-Got Dirt - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Nutrition and physical activity program: Got dirt? Gardening initiative. Accessed on January 20, 2016
WI DHS-Got veggies - Community Ground Works (CGW), Wisconsin Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity Program. Got veggies? A youth garden-based nutrition education curriculum. Madison: Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS); 2010. Accessed on November 10, 2015

Citations - Evidence

AHA-Mozaffarian 2012 - Mozaffarian D, Afshin A, Benowitz NL, et al. Population approaches to improve diet, physical activity, and smoking habits: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA). Circulation. 2012;126(12):1514–63. Accessed on May 15, 2017
Blair 2009* - Blair D. The child in the garden: An evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening. Journal of Environmental Education. 2009;40(2):15-38. Accessed on December 7, 2015
CDC MMWR-School health guidelines 2011 - National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH). School health guidelines to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2011:60(RR-05):1-71. Accessed on December 7, 2015
CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases: The CDC guide to strategies to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2011. Accessed on March 1, 2017
CDC-School-based obesity prevention - National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH). School-based obesity prevention strategies for state policymakers. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accessed on December 7, 2015
Cotugna 2012* - Cotugna N, Manning CK, DiDomenico J. Impact of the use of produce grown in an elementary school garden on consumption of vegetable at school lunch. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. 2012;7(1):11–19. Accessed on December 8, 2015
Dirks 2005 - Dirks AE, Orvis K. An evaluation of the junior master gardener program in third grade classrooms. HortTechnology. 2005;15(3):443-7. Accessed on January 12, 2016
Evans 2012a* - Evans A, Ranjit N, Rutledge R, et al. Exposure to multiple components of a garden-based intervention for middle school students increases fruit and vegetable consumption. Health Promotion Practice. 2012;13(5):608-16. Accessed on February 5, 2016
Gatto 2012* - Gatto NM, Ventura EE, Cook LT, Gyllenhammer LE, Davis JN. LA Sprouts: A garden-based nutrition intervention pilot program influences motivation and preferences for fruits and vegetables in Latino youth. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112(6):913–20. Accessed on February 24, 2016
Graham 2005* - Graham H, Beall DL, Lussier M, McLaughlin P, Zidenberg-Cherr S. Use of school gardens in academic instruction. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2005;37(3):147-51. Accessed on February 4, 2016
Graham 2005a* - Graham H, Zidenberg-Cherr S. California teachers perceive school gardens as an effective nutritional tool to promote healthful eating habits. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005;105(11):1797-1800. Accessed on February 24, 2016
IOM-Government obesity prevention 2009* - Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Research Council (NRC), Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention Actions for Local Governments. Local government actions to prevent childhood obesity. (Parker L, Burns AC, Sanchez E, eds.). Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2009. Accessed on May 10, 2017
Jaenke 2012* - Jaenke RL, Collins CE, Morgan PJ, et al. The impact of a school garden and cooking program on boys’ and girls' fruit and vegetable preferences, taste rating, and intake. Health Education & Behavior. 2012;39(2):131–41. Accessed on March 14, 2016
Klemmer 2005 - Klemmer CD, Waliczek TM, Zajicek JM. Growing minds: The effect of a school gardening program on the science achievement of elementary students. HortTechnology. 2005;15(3):448–52. Accessed on February 29, 2016
Koch 2006 - Koch S, Waliczek TM, Zajicek JM. The effect of a summer garden program on the nutritional knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of children. HortTechnology. 2006;16(4):620-4. Accessed on February 17, 2016
Langellotto 2012* - Langellotto GA, Gupta A. Gardening increases vegetable consumption in school-aged children: A meta-analytical synthesis. HortTechnology. 2012;22(4):430–45. Accessed on January 28, 2016
McAleese 2007* - McAleese JD, Rankin LL. Garden-based nutrition education affects fruit and vegetable consumption in sixth-grade adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(4):662-5. Accessed on March 1, 2016
Morgan 2010 - Morgan PJ, Warren JM, Lubans DR, et al. The impact of nutrition education with and without a school garden on knowledge, vegetable intake and preferences and quality of school life among primary-school students. Public Health Nutrition. 2010;13(11):1931–40. Accessed on February 1, 2016
Morris 2001 - Morris JL, Neustadter A, Zidenberg-Cherr S. First-grade gardeners more likely to taste vegetables. California Agriculture. 2001;55(1):43-6. Accessed on March 1, 2016
Morris 2002* - Morris JL, Zidenberg-Cherr S. Garden-enhanced nutrition curriculum improves fourth-grade school children’s knowledge of nutrition and preferences for some vegetables. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2002;102(1):91–3. Accessed on January 28, 2016
O'Brien 2006 - O’Brien SA, Shoemaker CA. An after-school gardening club to promote fruit and vegetable consumption: The assessment of social cognitive theory constructs. HortTechnology. 2006;16(1):24–9. Accessed on May 20, 2016
Ozer 2007* - Ozer EJ. The effects of school gardens on students and schools: Conceptualization and considerations for maximizing healthy development. Health Education & Behavior. 2007;34(6):846-63. Accessed on March 14, 2016
Parmer 2009* - Parmer SM, Salisbury-Glennon J, Shannon D, Struempler B. School gardens: An experiential learning approach for a nutrition education program to increase fruit and vegetable knowledge, preference, and consumption among second-grade students. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2009;41(3):212-7. Accessed on March 1, 2016
Pigg 2006 - Pigg AE, Waliczek TM, Zajicek JM. Effects of a gardening program on the academic progress of third, fourth, and fifth grade math and science students. HortTechnology. 2006;16(2):262–4. Accessed on May 20, 2016
Poston 2005 - Poston SA, Shoemaker CA, Dzewaltowski DA. A comparison of a gardening and nutrition program with a standard nutrition program in an out-of-school setting. HortTechnology. 2005;15(3):463–7. Accessed on May 20, 2016
Ratcliffe 2011* - Ratcliffe MM, Merrigan KA, Rogers BL, Goldberg JP. The effects of school garden experiences on middle school-aged students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors associated with vegetable consumption. Health Promotion Practice. 2011;12(1):36-43. Accessed on May 24, 2016
Rauzon 2010 - Rauzon S, Wang M, Studer N, et al. An evaluation of the school lunch initiative final report: Changing students' knowledge, attitudes and behavior in relation to food. University of California Berkeley: Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health; 2010. Accessed on March 14, 2016
Robinson-OBrien 2009* - Robinson-O’Brien R, Story M, Heim S. Impact of garden-based youth nutrition intervention programs: A review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109(2):273-80. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Scherr 2013 - Scherr RE, Cox RJ, Feenstra G, Zidenberg-Cherr S. Integrating local agriculture into nutrition programs can benefit children’s health. California Agriculture. 2013;67(1):30–7. Accessed on May 24, 2016
Wells 2014* - Wells NM, Myers BM, Henderson CR. School gardens and physical activity: A randomized controlled trial of low-income elementary schools. Preventive Medicine. 2014;69:S27-S33. Accessed on December 9, 2015

Citations - Implementation

CDE-Gardens - California Department of Education (CDE). Nutrition to grow on: curriculum for grades 4-6 that directly links school gardens and nutrition education. Accessed on March 29, 2016
Community GroundWorks - Community GroundWorks (CGW). Troy gardens. Accessed on December 8, 2015
FL DOE-Gardens - Florida Department of Education (FL DOE). School gardens. Accessed on February 4, 2016
Kidsgardening.org - KidsGardening. Helping young minds grow. Accessed on February 4, 2016
LSU-Ag Center - Louisiana State University (LSU) Agriculture Center. School gardens. Accessed on April 6, 2016
NASBE-Competitive foods - National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Competitive foods in school. Accessed on March 1, 2016
SCDA-SC F2I - South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA), South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. South Carolina farm to institution (SC F2I): Encouraging children to garden. Accessed on December 9, 2015
Waisman Garden - Waisman Center. Discovery garden. Accessed on March 15, 2016
WI DHS-Got Dirt - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Nutrition and physical activity program: Got dirt? Gardening initiative. Accessed on January 20, 2016
WSGI - Community Ground Works (CGW). Wisconsin school garden initiative (WSGI). Accessed on May 24, 2016

Page Last Updated

December 9, 2015

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