School & Youth Garden Research
We know youth and school gardens accomplish great things, but sometimes others need extra convincing.  Share these studies with school administrators, community leaders and anyone who needs hard data on gardens influence nutrition, science, math and environmental education.

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Archived Webinar: Children and Nature Initiative: Rx for Outdoor Activity
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) recently hosted the Children and Nature Initiative: Rx for Outdoor Activity webinar. Over 200 health care providers, public land managers, and educators participated in this national webinar. Participants learned about the link between childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyle, the scientific basis for the physical and mental health benefits of nature, how to connect children and families to nature sites for outdoor activity and how to utilize NEEF's Children and Nature Initiative tools and resources The webinar featured presentations by James Roberts, MD, MPH, Medical University of South Carolina and Leyla Erk McCurdy, NEEF's Senior Director of Health & Environment. View archived webinar.

Take the Common Core Outdoor: School gardens offer lessons beyond science and healthy eating as published in the Harvard Education Letter

When Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the White House lawn with Bancroft Elementary students in 2009, she made the point that school gardens are a natural place for children to learn about local food systems and eating healthy food. Digging down into loam to discover sweet potatoes, nibbling on sweet lettuce, filling carts with luscious collard greens to give to the local food pantry-these images of schoolchildren in the garden have done as much as anything to elevate the profile of the school garden as a vehicle for children's good health.

There's something very important missing from this picture, however: the school garden as outdoor classroom. 

How Public Health Degrees are Adapting to Health Challenges Posed by Climate Change 
By Charlotte Kellogg

This interesting report illuminates the implications of climate change on public health and directs readers to several organizations that are striving to find solutions for these problems.

Green Spaces Linked to Greater Human Health and Well-Being
Dr. Frances E. (Ming) Kuo, Associate Professor and Director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently published a monograph for the National Recreation and Park Association citing objective measures that link the presence of green spaces to greater human health and well-being. Kuo reported her research on identical housing developments, where scientists found that residents with views of concrete and asphalt had greater self-reported incidences of aggression and violence than their counterparts living with views of green space.  In another study, Kuo found that children with ADHD who went for 20-minute walks in park settings performed as well on concentration tests afterwards as children who received common ADHD medications. Kuo is a nationally and internationally recognized scientist examining the impacts of the urban landscapes on human health, is a member of the SITES Technical Core Committee, and helped to author several of the credits in the SITES human health and well-being category.

School Gardens as a Strategy for Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Erin Oxenham, MS, RD; and Amber D. King, MS, RD
Journal of child nutrition & management : a publication of the School Nutrition Association. 2010 Spring, v. 34, issue 1
School gardens as a form of nutrition education have become widespread. It is well known that children fall short of the daily recommended intake of fruit and vegetables. School-garden based programs show promise as a method of hands-on learning that promotes and increases fruit and vegetable consumption among school-aged children. There is little research, however, specific to the impact of school garden based programs on helping to explain why children choose the foods they do, the barriers to implementation of such programs and the feasibility of utilizing school grown produce in the school meal program. This paper reviews the impact of nutrition education interventions on children’s food choices, specifically that of school-based gardens, and provides recommendations for implementation of such programs and areas for further research.

Using Nature and Outdoor Activity to Improve Children's Health

Leyla E. McCurdy, MPhila, Kate E. Winterbottom, MPHa, Suril S. Mehta, MPHb, James R. Roberts, MD, MPHc
Childhood obesity affects 17% or 12.5 million of America's children, contributing to the rise in children's health disparities. Type 2 diabetes, asthma, vitamin D deficiency, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have also increased over the past few decades. A shift toward a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to the decline in children's health. Children spend more time indoors using electronic media and less time engaged in outdoor unstructured play. This article reviews the current evidence of the mental and physical health benefits associated with unstructured, outdoor activities and time spent in a natural environment such as a park or other recreational area. Pediatric health care providers should recommend outdoor activities for children and refer families to safe and easily accessible outdoor areas. Pediatric health care providers can incorporate this simple, lifestyle-based intervention into anticipatory guidance.

Garden Program Reduces Youth Obesity

Santa Barbara, Calif., June 22, 2010 ~ Last year, 500 children at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara, Calif., participated in the 10-week Eastside Wellness Program developed by the The Diabetes Resource Center.  Students received nutrition education, participated in physical fitness activities, and helped maintain 10 raised-bed gardens based on Junior Master Gardener curriculum from Texas A&M University.

Among particpants, obesity decreased from 30 percent to 25 percent in one year, and the prevalence of overweight and obesity combined decreased from 55 percent to 42 percent. Among girls, obesity decreased from 26 percent to 19 percent, and obesity and overweight combined dropped from 48 percent to 38 percent.

A Healthy Nutrition Environment: Linking Education, Activity, and Food through School Gardens California Department of Education
An overview of the school garden program including its impact on children's health, nutrition, and academic achievement.

American Community Gardening Association The Case for a Community Greening Research Agenda 2009
Brings together some of the most accomplished researchers in the field to share their newest thoughts and insights.  Features include interviews with Mark Francis, Kenneth Helphand and Frances Kuo. There's also a survey of abstracts of some of the most seminal research happening in the field, and an article by Marianne Krasny about kids and gardening.

American Community Gardening Assocation
Reports on property values, crime reduction, pilot study, public policy, citizenship

Assessing a Garden-based Curriculum for Elementary Youth in Iowa: Parental Perceptions of Change
Iowa State University Study

California School Garden Network 
Research and Policy Supporting Garden-based Learning

Effect of the National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitat Program on Fourth Grade Students' Standardized Test Scores
Cornell University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University Study

Evaluation of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation Program 
Deakin University and University of Melbourne Joint Research Study, Australia

Growing Environmental Stewards: The Overall Effect of a School Gardening Program
2008 Texas A&M University Study

Growing Minds: The Effect of a School Gardening Program on the Science Achievement of Elementary Students
2005 National Gardening Assn & Texas State University Study Grant Evaluation Summary
Data on the impact of grants programs

Neighborhood Greenness and 2-Year Changes in Body Mass Index of Children and Youth
University of Washington, Indiana and Purdue Universities

School Gardens Grow Science Achievement Scores
National Science Teachers Assocation article

The Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America

The National Gardening Association surveyed 2,559 households nationwide on their awareness of and interest in providing gardening activities to children at school. Nineteen percent were aware of gardening activities for students at their local school. That contrasts with a majority of households (55 percent) that said gardening activities should be implemented whenever possible (35 percent), or should be implemented in every school (20 percent).  See pages 15 and 16 more more insights.

School Garden History 
Library of Congress Webcast and Transcript
Constance Carter, Head of the Science Reference Section
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