Topical Annotated Bibliography
School Gardening Benefits
General Information and Background
Blair, Dorothy. “The Child in the Garden: An Evaluative Review of the Benefits of School Gardening.” The Journal of Environmental Education. Vol. 40, No. 2. Winter 2009.
- Reviews US literature to 2009 on outcomes of school gardening projects. Includes quantitative and qualitative studies related to “potential effects, school gardening outcomes, teacher evaluations of gardens as learning tools, and methodological issues” (15).
- Quantitative studies showed positive outcomes in “science achievement and food behavior”; qualitative studies documented an “array of positive social and environmental behaviors” (15).
- Direct mention of Texas-based curricula and programming
- Keywords: review of quantitative and qualitative literature, science achievement
Burt, Kate Gardner. “A Complete History of the Social, Health, and Political Context of the School Gardening Movement in the United States: 1840–2014.” Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. Vol. 11, No. 3. 2016.
- Overview of school gardening movements in the US from 19th to 21st centuries, situating school gardening within a wider historical context (may be useful background info)
- Argues that “school gardens are a mainstay in the United States as a result of their fluidity and unique ability to attach to important social, health and political issues” (297)
- Keywords: school gardens, nutrition/environmental education, history of school gardens, farm to school
Moore, Sarah A. et al. “School Gardens as Sites for Forging Progressive Socioecological Futures.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 105, No. 2, 2015.
- Explores how school gardens cultivate sustainable and socially just practices, specifically in “struggling schools,” where gardens provide much-needed spaces of community building, learning, and playfulness. Argues that gardening programs help establish a foundation for “knowledge production that exceeds the disciplinary functions of standardized testing, individual achievement, and accountability emphasized in neoliberal school reform” (407).
- This is a well written, fascinating study about the emotional, intellectual, and community assets of school gardening, specifically in low income districts with overwhelming pressure to perform well on standardized tests. It is definitely written for an audience that is already interested in the critical work of school gardening, and ways to make gardening programs more inclusive/useful in low income settings. It may be useful in thinking through how a gardening program might productively mitigate some of the pressures associated with underperformance in ‘struggling schools.’
- It is also insightful regarding issues of racial and socioeconomic exclusion in progressive/environmental ventures, critiquing the potential of school gardening programs to reproduce “neoliberal subjects who look to self help and social entrepreneurialism to solve problems of access to food and other local development issues” (407). They also note concerns about “how school gardens and other nutrition education projects aimed at children are discussed as solutions to the ‘obesity epidemic’ and risk demonizing fatness and normalizing certain (white, thin) bodies” (407).
- Keywords: school gardens, neoliberal education reform, alienation, affective labor
Turner, Lindsey. “Increasing Prevalence of US Elementary School Gardens, but Disparities Reduce Opportunities for Disadvantaged Students.” Journal of School Health. Vol. 86, No. 12. 2016.
- This data-driven study focuses on gardening in public elementary schools, exploring “time trends, demographic and regional disparities, and associations with related programs such as farm-to-school” through annual surveys between 2006–2007 and 2013–2014.
- The authors found that school gardens are less common in low income districts and argue for wider implementation of school gardening programming in high-need schools. They note the challenges to gardening programs in low-income districts (competing issues that demand attention/resources, more limited parent volunteers/support, etc.), writing, “academic matters often take priority at lower-SES schools, and the maintenance of gardens can divert resources away from the staffing needed for classroom-based learning. However, with research showing that garden programs can promote children’s science learning and can support the healthy nutrition needed for children to learn optimally, garden programs may be an overlooked way to enhance community, as well as promoting better academic and health outcomes for young children” (910–911).
- Keywords: school garden, nutrition education, disparities, disadvantaged students
Junior Master Gardening
Mallinger, Gayle and Molly Kerby. “The Harvest is the Best Teacher: A Narrative on Food Insecurity and Community Gardening with Children and Adolescents.” Reflections. Vol. 20, No. 1. 2015.
- Tracks a three year Junior Master Gardener program in a semi-rural city in Kentucky, focusing on how disparities emerge in low income contexts.
- Might be a useful resource for program building
- Keywords: community, child welfare, gardening programs, low income, disparity
Smith, LL and CE Motsenbocker. “Impact of hands-on science through school gardening in Louisiana public elementary schools.” Horttechnology. Vol. 15, No. 3. 2005.
- Reviews a Junior Master Gardener Program in Baton Rouge, looking specifically to the experimental class’ pretest and posttest scores. They found that “once weekly use of gardening activities and hands-on classroom activities help improve science achievement test scores.” This seems promising considering that it argues for positive outcomes in science achievement with as little as a once per week engagement (and science is a “high-need” subject area in the district).
- Keywords: education programs, science education, school gardens, test scores
Testing and Academic Outcomes
Berezowitz, Claire K. et al. “School Gardens Enhance Academic Performance and Dietary Outcomes in Children.” Journal of School Health. Vol. 85, No. 8. August 2015.
- Reviews 12 peer reviewed garden studies in US public schools, tracking increases/improvements in fruit and vegetable consumption as a result of school gardening programs.
- Argues that although “education on healthy living” and improvement in core academic performance may “appear to be competing concerns, they may interact beneficially”: “garden-based learning does not negatively impact academic performance or FV consumption and may favorably impact both” (508)
- Keywords: nutrition and diet, curriculum, health
Figueroa, Ariana Mangual et al. “La Cosecha/The Harvest: Sustainable Models of School-Community Engagement at a Bilingual Program.” The Journal of the National Association for Bilingual Education. Vol. 37, No. 1. 2014.
- Focuses on a year long bilingual afterschool program in the Bay Area in which students planted, harvested, and sold produce grown at a school site
- Highlights “the pedagogical and communicative resources employed in educational heritage-language settings” (43)
- This might help situate gardens as an English language learning (ELL) tool in the context of NISD
- Keywords: school gardening, bilingual education, social justice
Williams, Dilafruz R. and P. Scott Dixon. “Impact of Garden-Based Learning on Academic Outcomes in Schools: Synthesis of Research Between 1990 and 2010” Review of Educational Research. Vol. 83, No. 2. 2013.
- This review evaluates 152 articles published between 1990 and 2010, specifically exploring academic outcomes of garden-based learning.
- The authors finds “a preponderance of positive impacts on direct academic outcomes with highest positive impact for science followed by math and language arts” (211). They also note indirect academic outcomes such as “social development.” While they acknowledge the need for more rigorous data-driven research, they note that their findings were “consistent across programs, student samples, and school types and within the disparate research methodologies used” (211).
Physical and Health Outcomes
Evans et al. “Impact of School-based vegetable garden and physical activity coordinated health interventions on weight status and weight-related behaviors of ethnically diverse, low-income students: Study design and baseline data of the Texas, Grow! Eat! Go! (TGEG) cluster-randomized controlled trial.” BMC Public Health. Vol. 16. No. 973. 2016.
- Collaboration between UT School of Public Health and Texas AgriLife Extension, 5 year study to assess “the independent and combined impact of gardening, nutrition and physical activity intervention on the prevalence of healthy eating, physical activity and weight status among low-income elementary students” (1).
- Provides descriptive data and discussion on project and methods
- Texas-specific with a focus on low income students, advocates university-public school collaboration
- Keywords: randomized control trial, low-income children, school gardening, Texas, TGEG
Ohly, Heather et al. “A systematic review of the health and well-being impacts of school gardening: synthesis of quantitative and qualitative evidence.” BMC Public Health. Vol. 16, No. 286. 2016.
- This recently published review article evaluates the existing literature on school gardening programs from the US, UK, and Australia in order to “understand the health and well-being impacts of school gardens and the factors that help or hinder access” (1).
- They found that, although further quantitative and qualitative studies are needed, “Groups of pupils who do not excel in classroom activities were thought to particularly benefit” (1).
- Hindrances to positive outcomes include “lack of funding and over reliance on volunteers,” while “involvement with local communities and integration of gardening activities into the school curriculum were thought to support success” (1).
- This and other articles emphasize how university-public school gardening programs are particularly successful in terms of outcomes and longevity.
- Keywords: school gardens, systematic review, mixed method
Ozer, Emily J. “The Effects of School Gardens on Students and Schools: Conceptualization and Considerations for Maximizing Healthy Development.” Health Education and Behavior. Vol. 34, No. 6. 2007.
- Although this review essay is a bit older, it focuses on US-specific literature and emphasizes “school gardens as systemic interventions with the potential for promoting the health and wellbeing of individual students in multiple interdependent domains and for strengthening the school environment as a setting for positive youth development” (846). Perhaps this emphasis on improving school environment would be relevant for NISD, given rampant problems with retention (i.e. the dropout rate for 9th graders)
- Keywords: school gardens, youth development, review
Wells, Nancy M. “School gardens and physical activity: A randomized controlled trial of low-income elementary schools.” Preventative Medicine. Vol. 69. 2014.
- This data driven study focuses on school gardens as a strategy for increasing physical activity as well as the health and learning benefits associated with increased physical activity.
- Keywords: health behavior, primary schools, motor activity, physical activity, direct observation and linear mixed models