School Food Gardens—Benefits to Students
There is growing interest around the world for using gardens as a hands-on learning opportunity that can be integrated into a wide range of subject areas. Studies of food-producing gardens in schools cite the following benefits for children:
- An increased willingness to taste and like new vegetables, and an increase in fruit and vegetable intake (1–6)
- Reinforcement of nutrition lessons in the class (2)
- Improved academic performance (7–8)
- A hands-on approach to learning about sustainability, ecology and math (8–10, 12)
- An opportunity for light to moderate physical activity (especially for those who are less physically active) (11)
- Increased self-understanding (includes self-esteem) and self-efficacy, improved life-skills, improved teamwork and relationships with others and a sense of empowerment (13–15)
- Morris J, Neustadter A, Zidenberg-Cherr S. First-grade gardeners more likely to taste vegetables. California Agriculture. 2000;55:43-46.
- Morris J, Briggs M, Zidenberg-Cherr S. School-based gardens can teach kids healthier eating habits. California Agriculture. 2000;54:40-46.
- McAleese J, Rankin L. Garden-based nutrition education affects fruit and vegetable consumption in sixth-grade adolescents. J. of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107:662-665.
- Lautenschlager L, Smith C. Understanding gardening and dietary habits among youth garden program participants using the theory of planned behaviour. Appetite. 2007;49:122-13
- Ratcliffe MM, Merrigan KA, Rogers BL, Goldgerg JP. The effects of school garden experiences on middle school-aged students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors associated with vegetable consumption. Health PromotPract OnLineFirst. 2009; doi: 10.1177/152483990934918
- Cotugna N, Manning CK, Didomenico J. Impact of the Use of Produce Grown in an Elementary School Garden on Consumption of Vegetables at School Lunch. J Hunger Environ Nutr. 2012; 7:11-19.
- Klemmer CD, Waliczek TM, Zajicek JM. Growing minds: the effect of a school gardening program on the science achievement of elementary students. HorTechnology. 2005;15:448-452.
- Graham H, Zidenberg-Cherr S. California teachers perceive school gardens as an effective nutritional tool to promote healthful eating habits. J. of the American Dietetic Association. 2005;105:1797-1800.
- Graham H, Lane Beall D, Lussier M, McLaughlin P, Zidenberg-Cherr S. Use of school gardens in academic instruction. J. of Nutrition and Education Behavior. 2005;37:147-151
- Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds. Growing healthy food on Canada’s school grounds: school food garden survey results. June 16, 2006.
- Ozer E. The effects of school gardens in students and schools: conceptualization and considerations for maximizing healthy development. Health Education and Behavior. 2007;34:846-863.
- Bell A, Dyment J. Evergreen Grounds for Action: Promoting physical activity through school ground greening in Canada. 2006
- Robinson, C.W., Zajicek, J.M. Growing minds: the effects of a one-year school garden program on six constructs of life skills of elementary school children. HortTechnology. 2005;15(3):453-457
- Alexander J, North M-W, Hendren D K. Master gardener classroom garden project: an evaluation of the benefits to children. Children’s Environments. 1995;12(2):123-133
- Worsham N L, Goodvin R. The bee kind garden: a qualitative description of work with maltreated children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2007; 12(2): 261-279