University of California

School-based gardens can teach kids healthier eating habits


Jennifer Morris
Marilyn Briggs
Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr

Authors Affiliations

J. Morris was doctoral student in Department of Nutrition, UC Davis; M. Briggs is Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education; S. Zidenberg-Cherr is Nutrition Science Specialist, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 54(5):40-46. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n05p40. September 2000.

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Fruits and vegetables are important in a child's diet because they provide the body with vitamins, minerals, fiber and several phytochemicals necessary for growth and development and health maintenance. However, a recent study found that only 7% of children aged 2 to 11 consumed the recommended two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables each day. A limited number of nutrition education programs have been shown to improve dietary choices and self-reported health knowledge and behavior by school-aged children, at least in short-term results. An innovative approach is needed to motivate children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits. Our research shows that incorporating gardens into the school environment can reinforce nutrition lessons. Likewise, children who plant and harvest their own vegetables are more willing to taste and even like them. California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin has set a goal of “a garden in every school.” As more of the state's farmland is lost to development, garden activities can reinforce good nutrition as well as teach California students about the value of agriculture.


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Morris J, Briggs M, Zidenberg-Cherr S. 2000. School-based gardens can teach kids healthier eating habits. Hilgardia 54(5):40-46. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n05p40
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