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  • Author or Editor: Jayne Zajicek x
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Child obesity has become a national concern. Obesity in children ages 6–17 years has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Only 20% of children today consume the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables. This trend is even more pronounced in minority populations. Past studies have reported a horticulture-based curriculum, including gardening, can improve children’s attitudes toward eating fruit and vegetables. To investigate whether children of a minority population can benefit from gardening combined with a curriculum on nutrition, research was conducted with elementary schools in a primarily Hispanic region of Texas. Elementary school teachers participating in this research agreed to have school gardens and complete all activities in a curriculum on nutrition provided to them through the Texas Agrilife Extension Service. One hundred and forty-one children in the participating schools completed a pre- and posttest evaluating their nutritional knowledge, preference for fruit and vegetables, and snack choices before and after a gardening program supplemented with nutrition education. Differences were detected between pre- and posttest scores for all three variables. After comparing pre- and posttest scores, it was concluded that gardening and nutritional instruction had a positive effect on students’ nutritional knowledge, fruit and vegetable preference (FVP), and snack choices.

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A survey was used to investigate gardeners’ and nongardeners’ nutritional attitudes, fruit and vegetable consumption, and nutritional knowledge. The survey was posted for 4 months on one of the largest online resources for Master Gardeners. During the 4 months, 402 responses were gathered. Additionally, identical “paper/pencil” format surveys were distributed to garden, church, and social and community groups with ≈400 responses received. In each group of participants, respondents differentiated themselves as gardeners or nongardeners by responding positively or negatively to the survey question, “do you garden?” No statistically significant relationships were found relating fruit and vegetable consumption to either income level or educational attainment status in the overall sample. Results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons between gardeners and nongardeners with regards to nutritional attitudes and their consumption of fruit and vegetables where gardeners had more positive nutritional attitude scores and increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. However, no statistically significant differences were found between gardeners’ and nongardeners’ nutritional knowledge.

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One-third of Americans are reportedly living with extreme stress, with 75% to 90% of visits to primary care physicians being for stress-related problems. Past research found visiting green areas lowers blood pressure, reduces headache and fatigue, improves mood, and hastens recovery from stress. The main objective for this study was to determine if stress-related illness rates in regions of Texas were related to vegetation rates and tree canopy cover. Data on the stress-related illnesses of high blood pressure and heart attacks were collected from the Center for Health Statistics and the Texas Department of State Health Services for all 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in Texas. MSAs are counties or group of counties with a central city or urbanized area of at least 50,000 people. Percent canopy cover was calculated for each MSA using the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics National Land Cover Data canopy cover dataset. Vegetation rates for all the MSAs were examined and mapped for illustration using geographical information system (GIS) software. Visual relationships among the data were observed. Quantitative data were also analyzed. When mapping stress-related illness rate into MSA regions of Texas, no clear trend was observed with vegetation rates or percent tree canopy cover when compared with stress-related illness rates. Semipartial correlations were calculated to analyze the relationship between tree canopy cover and vegetation rate and stress-related illness rate variables after controlling the effect of external variables like income levels, age, population, and ethnicity. There was no significant positive or negative relationship found between stress-related illness data when compared with percent canopy and vegetation index for any the 25 MSAs of Texas.

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The number of asthma cases in children has increased significantly in the last couple of decades. Studies on links between outdoor air pollutants and asthma have had mixed results, suggesting the need for more focused studies. An increase in tree plantings for urban areas is now being called upon as a solution to the higher heat indexes and pollution rates for more densely populated areas. Green spaces and trees could further benefit some urban areas by providing an effective means to improve air conditions. The purpose of this study was to assess whether there is a relationship between levels of vegetation and reported rates of childhood asthma in Texas. Childhood asthma data were collected from the Center for Health Statistics and the Texas Department of State Health Services for the years 2005 and 2006. The asthma rates for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were mapped and inserted into a corresponding vegetation map using geographical mapping software. A comparison of vegetation rates and asthma rates in metropolitan areas was used to investigate whether vegetation and tree cover led to higher or lower incidences of childhood asthma rates. Asthma data, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and canopy cover data were analyzed using statistical software. Regression analysis and correlations were calculated to analyze the data for the tree coverage/vegetation rates and asthma rates variable. No statistically significant relationships between NDVI, canopy cover, and asthma were found in this study.

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New dietary guidelines recommend eating more than five servings of fruit and vegetables each day without setting upper limitations. Although older adults tend to report a higher intake of fruit and vegetables than other age groups, over half of the U.S. older population does not meet the recommendation of five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Research has shown that gardening is one way of improving fruit and vegetable intake. The primary focuses of this study were to examine and compare fruit and vegetable consumption of gardeners and nongardeners and to investigate any differences in fruit and vegetable consumption of long-term gardeners when compared with newer gardeners in adults older than age 50 years. An online survey was designed to be answered by older adults (50 years or older) and respondents self-selected themselves for inclusion in the study. A total of 261 questionnaires was completed. Data collected were analyzed using statistical procedures, including descriptive statistics, Pearson's product-moment correlations, and multivariate analysis of variance. The results of this research supports previous studies that indicated gardeners were more likely to consume vegetables when compared with nongardeners. However, these results were not found with regard to fruit consumption between gardeners and nongardeners. Additionally, the length of time an individual reported having participated in gardening activities seemed to have no relationship to the number of vegetables and fruit reported as consumed, which suggests gardening intervention programs late in life would be an effective method of boosting vegetable and fruit consumption in older adults. Gender was also evaluated with no statistically significant differences found for overall fruit and vegetable intake.

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Abstract

Seedlings of Baptisia australis (L.) R. Br. and Liatris aspera Michx., grown in prairie soil with no additional P, benefited significantly from inoculation with Glomus etunicatum Becker and Gerd., regardless of whether they were adequately watered or moderately or severely drought-stressed. In the presence of additional P, growth of severely droughted inoculated seedlings for both plant species was not significantly greater than noninoculated plants. When the influence of four Glomus species on growth of the two forbs was compared under drought-stress conditions with no supplemental P, growth of both plant species was signficantly improved by all fungal species compared to noninoculated controls. Preinoculated seedlings of both plant species were transplanted into disturbed-site soils with indigenous vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi present and subjected to severe moisture stress. After 12 weeks, inoculated seedlings were significantly larger than noninoculated seedlings for all soil types, with or without additional fertilizer (0.15 kg P/m3 + 0.075 kg N/m3). Under conditions of drought stress and low fertility, preinoculated seedlings of both B. australis and L. aspera grew significantly larger than noninoculated seedlings.

Open Access

Abstract

Seedlings of blue wildindigo [Baptisia australis (L.) R. Br.], rough gayfeather (Liatris aspera Michx.), and butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa L.) were grown in either a 1 soil : 1 sphagnum peat : 1 perlite (by volume) or 1 soil : 1 sand medium (v/v), amended with 0.00, 0.29, or 0.58 kg P/m3, and inoculated with Glomus etunicatum Becker and Gerd., G. fasciculatum (Thax. sensu Gerd.) Gerd. and Trappe, G. macrocarpum Tul. and Tul., G. mosseae (Nicol. and Gerd.) Gerd. and Trappe, or remained noninoculated. The objective was to determine whether vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi can establish and enhance plant growth, and how this would be affected by soil amendments. Replications were transplanted into the field to determine whether VAM pretransplant inoculation increased host growth and flowering. In the greenhouse, total dry weight of the three wildflower species grown in 1 soil : 1 sand (v/v) medium with no P was significantly improved by addition of most mycorrhizal species tested, but the response varied among plant species. At 0.29 kg P/m3, fewer mycorrhizal growth responses were evident. No growth responses were evident at 0.58 kg P/m3. B. australis was the only species that benefited from mycorrhizal inoculation in the 1 soil: 1 sphagnum peat: 1 perlite (by volume) medium at 0.00 and 0.29 kg P/m3. There were no differences in tissue P content within the three species when VAM-inoculated plants at 0.00 kg P/m3 were compared to noninoculated controls. At 0.29 kg P/m3 in the 1 soil : 1 sand medium, inoculated seedling tissue P increased, but in the 1 soil : 1 sphagnum peat : 1 perlite medium, noninoculated controls had significantly higher tissue P contents compared to inoculated seedlings. In the field, height and inflorescences per plant for the wildflowers were improved by VAM inoculation during the 2nd growing season.

Open Access