Research & Reports

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)


  1. Morris J, Neustadter A, Zidenberg-Cherr S.  First-grade gardeners more likely to taste vegetables.  California Agriculture.  2000;55:43-46.
  2. Morris J, Briggs M, Zidenberg-Cherr S.  School-based gardens can teach kids healthier eating habits.  California Agriculture.  2000;54:40-46.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds.  Growing healthy food on Canada’s school grounds: school food garden survey results.  June 16, 2006.
  11. 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.
  12. Bell A, Dyment J.  Evergreen Grounds for Action:  Promoting physical activity through school ground greening in Canada.  2006
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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

Did you find this resource helpful?

Making it Happen: Healthy Eating at School
Presented by the BC Dairy Association, the Ministry of Health, and Knowledge Network
Site design by mod7