School Gardens: Can a Hands-on Teaching Tool Affect Students' Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Fruit and Vegetables?

in HortTechnology

Nutrition in the Garden is a garden program designed to help teachers integrate nutrition education into their classroom using a hands-on tool, the garden. The objectives of this research project were to 1) develop a garden activity guide to help teachers integrate nutrition education, specifically as it relates to fruit and vegetables, into their curricula, 2) evaluate whether students developed more positive attitudes towards fruit and vegetables by participating in the garden program, and 3) evaluate whether students developed better nutritional behavior by eating more fruit and vegetables after participating in the garden program. Students' nutritional attitudes regarding fruit and vegetables were measured with a fruit and vegetable preference questionnaire divided into three sections targeting vegetables, fruit, and fruit and vegetable snacks. Students' nutritional behaviors regarding fruit and vegetables were evaluated through 24-hour recall journals. After gardening, students' attitudes towards vegetables became significantly more positive. In contrast, no differences were detected in attitudes towards fruit. Students also had more positive attitudes towards fruit and vegetable snacks after gardening, with female students and younger students having the greatest improvement in snack attitude scores. Even though school gardening improved students' attitudes towards vegetables, fruit and vegetable consumption of students did not significantly improve due to gardening. Overall, the average daily fruit and vegetable consumption of the students participating in the Nutrition in the Garden study was 2.0 servings per day. This falls short of the estimated national average for daily fruit and vegetable consumption for this age group (3.4 servings) and extremely short of the nationally recommended 5.0 servings per day.

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