Gardening programs have been increasing in popularity since 1995 when California enacted legislation with the goal of putting a garden in every school. Research has shown positive benefits of gardening programs include increasing a child’s academic skills, environmental awareness, and social skills, but little is known about their impact on healthy attitudes and behaviors. Considering childhood obesity rates are rapidly increasing, understanding how educational programs, such as gardening, can impact health has become important. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact Extension gardening programs had on participants’ healthy attitudes and behaviors. Using a pretest/posttest research design with a control group, the researchers found that only slight changes were occurring in participants’ attitudes and behaviors. However, when staff member open-ended responses were reviewed qualitatively, it was found that more is occurring within the program than was uncovered by the quantitative instrument. Recommendations for enhancing the school-based garden program as a result of the findings included teaching participants how to prepare and eat the vegetables they have produced in the garden, increasing instruction on how gardening is a physical activity, and including journaling about the nutritional values of fruits and vegetables to develop positive attitudes about health.
Odera, E., Lamm, A. J., Owens, C., Thompson, S., & Carter, L. (2013). The Impact of Extension Gardening Programs on Healthy Attitudes and Behaviors. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 1(2), 5. https://scholarsjunction.msstate.edu/jhse/vol1/iss2/5
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