Health Educ Behav Health Education  Behavior   The Effects of School Gardens on Students or Maximizing Health y De elopment Emily J

Health Educ Behav Health Education Behavior The Effects of School Gardens on Students or Maximizing Health y De elopment Emily J - Description

Ozer PhD eyw ords sc hool gar dens youth health youth de velopment Historical and olicy Context There is a gro wing US mo ement for the greening of schoolyards through gardens at school sites and much enthusiasm for the potential of gardenbased lea ID: 30473 Download Pdf

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Health Educ Behav Health Education Behavior The Effects of School Gardens on Students or Maximizing Health y De elopment Emily J

Ozer PhD eyw ords sc hool gar dens youth health youth de velopment Historical and olicy Context There is a gro wing US mo ement for the greening of schoolyards through gardens at school sites and much enthusiasm for the potential of gardenbased lea

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Health Educ Behav Health Education Behavior The Effects of School Gardens on Students or Maximizing Health y De elopment Emily J

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Presentation on theme: "Health Educ Behav Health Education Behavior The Effects of School Gardens on Students or Maximizing Health y De elopment Emily J"— Presentation transcript:

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Health Educ Behav Health Education & Behavior
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846 The Effects of School Gardens on Students or Maximizing Health y De elopment Emily J. Ozer , PhD eyw ords: sc hool gar dens; youth; health; youth de velopment Historical and olicy Context There is a gro wing U.S. mo ement for the “greening of schoolyards through gardens at school sites, and much enthusiasm for the potential of garden-based learning in promoting healthy youth de elopment. There are multiple rationales for the alue of schools gardens, chiefly as outdoor “learning laboratories, as aesthetically

pleasing spaces for children to play , and, most recently , as places to promote the consumption of fresh produce among a youth population with mark edly ele ated rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes (Hedle y et al., 2004). In the late 1990s, Delaine Eastin, then California s Superintendent for Public Instruction, called for “a garden in ery school. State le gislation as passed that set aside small start-up funds for schools interested in planting instructional gardens that included teaching and practice of sustainable aste- management techniques such as composting and rec ycling. There are no

w estimated to be more than 2,000 school gardens in the state of California being used for academic Emily J. Ozer , Uni ersity of California–Berk ele Addr ess corr espondence to Emily J. Ozer , Uni ersity of California–Berk ele , School of Public Health, 140 arren Hall, Berk ele , CA 94720-7360; e-mail: eozer@berk ele .edu. The author gratefully ackno wledges the helpful perspecti es on school garden projects pro vided by man indi viduals including Arden Bucklin-Sporer , Eddy Jara, Karin Morris, Delaine Eastin, Katherine Ozer , Ann Ev ans, Beebo urman, Ri vka Mason, Be erly oenig and Heidi

Jenkins of the Rooftop Alternati e School, Narda Harrington, Rebecca Bozzelli, Abby Rosenheck, Chelsea Chapman, and Kristin Bijur Health Education & Behavior , ol. 34 (6): 846-863 (December 2007) DOI: 10.1177/1090198106289002 2007 by SOPHE
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Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 847 instruction in subjects including science, math, nutrition, en vironmental studies, and health (Graham, 2002) and man y more nationally (National Gardening Association, 2004). In June 2004, national le gislation as signed into la w as part of the Child Nutrition Bill that—if appropriated for

funding—could help co er the initial costs of school gardens in conjunction with nutrition education. In school garden programs that gro w edible produce, students generally learn science and nutrition concepts rele ant to gro wing food while the y ork in the garden. Students harv est the getables and, in some programs, learn to cook nutritious meals from the harv est. Some programs include a “f arm-to-school component in which the school purchases produce from local armers for its lunch program, and students visit arms to understand where food comes from and ho w it is gro wn (for information

on the National arm to School Program, go to http://www .f armtoschool.or g). In food- gro wing garden programs, one central health-related goal is to stimulate youth—some of whom subsist on diets hea vily based on packaged foods—to increase their con- sumption of fresh produce. Students also get some ercise as the y engage in weeding, digging, and other manual labor associated with garden maintenance. Goals of Re view VER VIEW OF IMPLEMENT TION MODELS AND CHALLENGES Implementation Models School garden programs and curricula uild on models of hands-on, problem-based en vironmental and science

education. The y also are a form of community garden, pro- viding a ne w setting for interactions among members of the school community and potentially promoting the social netw orks, sense of connectedness, and skills of the
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848 Health Education & Behavior (December 2007) community (T wiss, Dickinson, Duma, & Kleinman, 2003). Or ganizations concerned with sustainable agriculture and food systems ha e pro vided support for school gardens and arm-to-school programs as approaches for teaching children about ecological systems, linking food consumption to sustainable agriculture,

and promoting land ste ardship (for more information on the Center for Ecoliterac , go to www .ecoliterac .or g). The current obesity crisis is focusing attention on these programs as a school- based means of promoting nutrition and ercise, ut it should be noted that the er- arching goals of man y school gardens xtend be yond indi vidual health and beha vior to en vironmental sustainability School garden programs ary widely in scope, intensity of participation, and inte- gration into the re gular school curriculum en within the same district. Although some school gardens include a wide xpanse

of plantings, others consist of a small number of abo ground planter box es. ith the xception of tw o surv ys conducted in California and Florida, there has been little systematic documentation of school garden implementation. The main indings of the California surv y—which had a 43% response rate representing 4,184 out of a total of 9,805 public school principals in the state—were that (a) gardens were more frequently reported in elementary and K-8 schools than in secondary schools; (b) 89% of principals vie wed academic enhance- ment as the purpose of the garden in their school; (c) the

subjects most frequently taught in the school gardens were science (95%), en vironmental studies (70%), nutrition (66%), language arts (60%), and math (59%); and (d) teachers were most frequently responsible for managing the garden program, follo wed by parent olunteers and students (Graham, 2002; Graham, Beall, Lussier , McLaughlin, & Zidenber g-Cherr 2005). The Florida surv y of 71 teachers indicated that most gardens were less than years old and had a strong focus on en vironmental education (Sk elly & Bradle , 2000) artnership ith Nonpr of it Or ganizations
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Challenges ith little if an y funding ailable from the state or the school districts for the er- whelming majority of school gardens, most school gardens rely hea vily on donations of funding, technical assistance, labor , and materials from school and community members. or xample, in one of the Los Angeles school gardens prof iled in the case study aluation, the school used a $4,000 minigrant from the mayor s of ice to uy plants, the garden planter box es were uilt and installed by parent olunteers, and the student council cleared the box es and purchased additional plants (Azuma et al.,

2001). Although the gardens are often de eloped and maintained by olunteer ef forts on the part of teachers, parents, and community members, there are clear benef its to funding at least a part-time teacher or garden coordinator to dedicate time to the garden program and its inte gration into the school curriculum. Not surprisingly , multiple practitioners xpressed that ha ving a paid staf f person to or ganize the program is y to a well- coordinated and sustainable school garden program. In schools with acti e parent par- ticipation and fundraising, lik e the public K-8 Rooftop School in San

Francisco, the PT A pro vides the sole funding for a part-time garden coordinator s salary KNO WLEDGE ASE OF EFFECTS OF SCHOOL GARDEN PR OGRAMS This section be gins by summarizing the small scientif ic literature on the relationship of school garden programs to youth de elopment and health outcomes. This discussion then considers the observ ations of practitioners re garding the alue, impact, and limita- tions of school garden programs. These perspecti es are particularly critical because there is an acti e practice of school garden programs ut little peer -re vie wed research in this area.

This re vie w is further informed by intervie ws conducted by the author with Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 849
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garden coordinators and observ ations of classes at approximately 20 school garden sites in tw o school districts in Northern California as well as intervie ws with se eral polic mak ers and district-le el school garden coordinators in the re gion. eer -Re viewed Resear ch Using the yw ords “school and “garden, the author searched the Psychinfo, PubMed, and ERIC electronic databases as of July 2005. An y published articles on school garden programs were read to

identify an y studies of the ef fects of garden programs or acti vities on students physical health, mental health, or academic perfor- mance. A search as also conducted using the yw ords “community and “garden”; these articles were then re vie wed to identify an y studies of community gardens at school sites. These three databases pro vide co erage of the research literature in the areas of health, education, psychology , and youth de elopment. The reference sections of all identif ied publications were re vie wed for further articles. School garden program eb sites and other rele ant eb

sites were searched to identify potential articles. Searches were also conducted on the Google search engine using “school garden or “instructional garden as yw ords. Case study descriptions of school garden curricula or process studies of attitudes to ard the curricula that did not assess an y health, mental health, or academic outcomes were xcluded from this re vie w of published literature. In summary , this small literature appears promising ut inconclusi e thus ar . More research using rigorous aluation designs and suf iciently lar ge samples are needed to test the ef fects of school

garden programs. Methodological considerations for future research are discussed in the inal section. 850 Health Education & Behavior (December 2007)
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Practice-Related Obser ations and Claims Although there is little research on the impact of school garden programs, there are numerous observ ations and testimonials that these programs mak e a dif ference for students and schools. This anecdotal information is gleaned from program reports, program eb sites, and intervie ws conducted by the author with approximately 20 school garden coordinators and polic y mak ers xperienced in

orking with school gar- dens. Intervie ws and observ ations of school garden sites were conducted with the appro al of the UC Berk ele y Of ice for Protection of Human Subjects and the school districts. These observ ations and claims by adv ocates of school garden programs—not yet subjected to empirical aluation—suggest potential directions for future research. In addition to nutrition, science learning, and en vironmental areness, there are obser- ations of school gardens promoting students achie ement, moti ation to learn, psy- chosocial de elopment (e.g., self-esteem, responsibility), beha

vioral engagement, and cooperation with peers (Pranis, 2004). School garden coordinators and polic y mak ers ha e also cited a range of positi e impacts on the school culture and en vironment, including collecti e pride that this is a “good school; increased sense of “o wnership of the school by the students; the creation of a safe, adult-monitored setting during recess for children who do not feel comfortable on the blacktop; and increased roles and in olv ement at the school for immigrant and other parents who ha e agricultural ut not formal academic skills. CONCEPTU AL FRAMING OF PO TENTIAL

EFFECTS OF SCHOOL GARDENS Conceptual framing of ho w school garden programs may ert their ef fects is impor- tant for informing practice and for the de elopment of a coherent research and alua- tion literature. School garden programs dif fer , ut all ha e xperiential education acti vities that are taught in a gro wing en vironment and some adult(s) who supports the students learning in the gro wing en vironment. A social ecological-transactional per- specti e of human de elopment vie ws the child as nested within immediate conte xts or micro-systems (e.g., school, amily , community) that

reciprocally interact with each other and the child er time to shape de elopment (Bronfenbrenner , 1979; Cicchetti ynch, 1993). The transactional emphasis of this frame ork dra ws attention to ho w the dif ferent conte xts that shape de elopment influence each other as well as the child. The ecological principle of interdependence (K elly et al., 2000), in which changes in one component of an ecosystem will produce changes in other components, further suggests that (a) changes in the school may set in motion processes of change in the amily and community en vironments, and vice ersa and (b)

changes in one domain of student functioning (e.g., nutrition, bonding to school, and peer relationships) may influence other domains of functioning. The remainder of this article is de oted to discussion of a conceptual model on the ef fects of school gardens that is informed by this social- ecological frame ork. Figure 1 pro vides a visual representation of the major points of ef fects of each component of school garden programs (see box es at left of igure). These ef fects are conceptualized on the le el of the indi vidual student, the amily and school micro-systems, and the

interconnections among micro-systems (meso-system). Peer Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 851
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Garden Site and Gardening Activities Parent and Community Involvement in School Garden Program Formal Curriculum: “Hands-On Education in Academic Subjects, Nutrition, Environmental Ecology Student-Level Proximal Effects Exposure to fresh produce Positive attitudes toward eating produce Sense of ownership and attachment to school site School-Level Proximal Effects Aesthetic improvement New settings for children to play and interact Student-Level Proximal Effects Engagement and

learning in academic topics Nutrition knowledge Environmental awareness and knowledge of conservation practices School-Level Proximal Effects Peer relationships and academic performance may improve via cooperative group instruction Meso-Level Proximal Effects Presence of family at school site Communication between school personnel and families Presence of community members at school site Family-Level Proximal Effects Parents increase knowledge in areas of nutrition, food systems, and resource conservation Student-Level Distal Effects Higher intake of fresh produce; potential benefits for

prevention of obesity and chronic disease Attachment to school linked with lower risk behavior, higher academic achievement School-Level Distal Effects Increased pride in school setting Student-Level Distal Effects Improved nutritional intake linked to lower obesity and chronic disease risk Improved nutritional intake may lead to higher academic performance Increases in ecological conservation practices School-Level Distal Effects Potential improvements in aggregate academic performance Meso-Level Distal Effects Strengthening of school community, collective efficacy, social networks Parent

involvement in schooling linked to student achievement, graduation Stronger ties between school and community Family-Level Proximal Effects Changes in family consumption patterns to improve children’s nutritional intake Changes in family resource conservation practices Figur e 1. Conceptual model of potential ef fects of school garden programs. NO TE: Figure is to be read from left to right, with components of programs (depicted in box es) leading to potential proximal an d distal ef fects (depicted in als). 852
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relationships are discussed as a dimension of the school en

vironment rather than as separate micro-system because the focus is on student relationships within the school. The theoretical and empirical rationale for the consideration of each potential ef fect is described belo w and is follo wed by analysis of this conceptualization for practice and research. Nutrition and Exer cise In the domains of nutrition and ercise, garden classes require some additional anaerobic ercise during the school day . Edible gardens pro vide students with the opportunity to become amiliar with and eat produce that the y ha e gro wn themselv es, an xperience that

anecdotally increases the appeal of eating getables. Increasing the consumption of fruits and getables as a goal of the USD s major “5-A-Day campaign and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (2003) for the pre ention of obesity among children. Although there has been surprisingly little epi- demiological or xperimental research on the relationship between consumption of fruits and getables and obesity (Rolls, Ello-Martin, & ohill, 2004; ohill, Se ymour Serdula, ettel-Khan, & Rolls, 2004), inadequate consumption of getables among adolescents has been correlated with a range of

poorer academic and health outcomes including lo wer academic performance, alcohol and drug use, being erweight, and weight dissatisf action (Neumark-Sztainer , Story , Resnick, & Blum, 1996). It is notable that eating getables in a school garden program is a peer group acti vity , with the potential benef it of dra wing on peer social influence to promote the vie w of consuming fresh produce as a normati e practice. Nutrition curricula used in conjunction with some school garden programs teach topics such as food groups, nutritional and ener gy unprocessed foods (California Department of

Education, 2001; Project ood, Land, People, 2000). Broader school policies and practices can serv e to reinforce or undermine the ork of the school garden or other nutrition-oriented programs. The school lunch and snack options send messages to students about appropriate food choices and also directly impact the en vironmental supports or constraints that students xperience as the attempt to put into practice the lessons learned in the garden program. Creating a school en vironment that is supporti e of healthful food choices will strengthen students per- cei ed self-ef icac y to eat more

healthfully and is more lik ely to lead to ef fecti e beha v- ior change (Bandura, 1997). Man y school districts ha e de eloped food policies in an ef fort to promote the nutrition of students. The sale of soda in ending machines has recei ed particular attention because of data linking increased consumption of soda to obesity for youth (Ludwig, Peterson, & Gortmak er , 2001). Ne w ork and Los Angeles school districts banned sodas from school ending machines, and le gislatures in states such as California, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Indiana are considering or ha e enacted state wide bans on

the sale of soda in schools during the school day Although historically not co ered by formal polic y or curricular guidelines, informal school practices such as the use of candy to re ard good beha vior in classrooms, school fundraisers that in olv e candy sales, and the sometimes-poor nutritional content of food ailable at school-sponsored ents can all undermine more formal nutrition educa- tion. Some districts ha e xtended food polic y be yond the school-lunch and ending- machine options to try to enhance the informal and amily-based practices of the school community . The xtent to which

amilies and teachers follo w these stated policies is not Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 853
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kno wn. Students spend only part of their day at school, so the resources and supports for healthful eating in the neighborhood and at home are also critical. It seems lik ely that school garden programs that ha e the goal of impro ving student nutrition will be more ef fecti e if parents become in ested in the program. This could occur through acti vities such as parents olunteering in the program, educational materials designed for parents, and home ork assignments for students

that in olv e parent input and pro- mote amilial discussion about food choices. Attempts to influence amilial food prac- tices should ind ays of inte grating traditional foods from ethnic and cultural groups represented at the school (Project ood, Land, & People, 2000). In general, it ould be xpected that school garden programs focused on impro ving student nutrition will be most ef fecti e if the y can promote (a) positi e attitudes to ard fresh produce by pro viding xperiences of eating high-quality , fresh produce, some of which the y may ha e helped to gro w; (b) kno wledge of the health

benef its of more nutritious eating and the health risks of less nutritious eating; (c) peer and amily norms that are supporti e of healthful eating; and (d) en vironmental conditions in the school and, ideally , at home and in community that pro vide healthful food options and limit the ready accessibility to less healthful options. School Bonding and Attachment The construct of school “bonding has not been used to describe the potential ef fects of school gardens on students, nor has the impact of school garden programs on students le el of school bonding been studied thus ar . But anecdotal

claims re garding the ef fects of school gardens reflect dimensions of students feelings of attachment, pride, and belonging to their school as well as a sense of attachment to adults in the school setting. Garden coordinators and teachers ha e described students referring to the space as “our garden or students sho wing up early at school to see an y changes that had happened in the garden ernight. In some schools, the school garden is open dur- ing lunch and after school, and it is place where some students come—outside of their time in the garden class—to help the garden coordinator and to

spend time in the garden. One garden teacher talk ed about students “f inding refuge in the garden, par- ticularly those who didn t it in at the rest of the school or who did not appear to feel safe among the sometimes-rough physical play on the blacktop. A gro wing body of empirical literature pro vides vidence that students le el of bonding or connection to school is related to a range of important health and achie e- ment outcomes throughout adolescence and adulthood. Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health indicate that adolescents who report feeling more

connected to school sho w lo wer le els of emotional distress, risk beha vior , and aggression (Resnick et al., 1997). Interv entions that increase children s bonding to school ha e sho wn long-term results of lo wer substance use, delinquenc , violence, academic problems, and se xual acti vity in adolescence and young adulthood (Ha wkins, Guo, Hill, Battin-Pearson, & Abbott, 2001). The theoretical rationale underlying this approach is that students who become emotionally attached to their teachers and to their school will adopt the prosocial alues espoused by the school; this social bond and

internalized alues will then serv e to promote prosocial beha vior and to inhibit anti- social beha vior inconsistent with the alues of the institution. Thus, attachment to school—in addition to attachment to amily—serv es as a y process for positi socialization that ould be xpected to influence a range of beha viors. If school garden programs ar able to strengthen students percei ed connection and bonding to school, 854 Health Education & Behavior (December 2007)
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the ef fects of these programs could xtend well be yond nutrition to a range of other academic, beha vioral, and

health domains. Academic erf ormance otential Dir ect Ef fects on Academic erformance . Some school garden programs are focused on pro viding hands-on inquiry to promote learning about scientif ic and other concepts consistent with state-mandated learning objecti es, or “standards. or xample, to understand ho w light is reflected, elementary school students use foil to reflect light onto some of the plants in a garden and compare the rates of gro wth between those that recei ed light ersus those that didn t (Life Lab, 1990). o under- stand decomposition of matter , the y study sca engers and

identify the actions of decomposers (California Department of Education, 2002). Educators also de eloped garden-based curricula to support learning in math, social sciences, history , and other areas. or xample, math skills are put into practice by selling produce from the garden or by graphing the results of an xperiment in which students compared tw o identical crops gro wn with and without compost. Gardening itself also pro vides opportunities for naturalistic and “emer gent scientif ic inquiry (Rahm, 2002). School garden programs could also potentially af fect academic achie ement and beha

vior through other indirect pathw ays, such as student nutrition and parental in olv ement. Prior research indicates that children s le el of attention and academic performance are af fected by their nutritional intak e, particularly at breakf ast (Pollitt Mathe ws, 1998). There are consistent indings linking parental in olv ement in children s schooling to their academic achie ement (Eccles & Harold, 1996; Hill et al., 2004; Steinber g, 1996). As there are multiple pathw ays that may link school gardens to achie ement, research and aluation in this area should use the ecological frame ork

discussed earlier to study rele ant mediators and their potential independent and com- bined ef fects on outcomes. Conser ation and Ecological Commitment Some school garden programs teach concepts and alues related to promoting the sustainability of the natural en vironment and the conserv ation of natural resources. This curricular approach reflects an inte gration of science learning about biological ecosys- tems with alues related to land ste ardship (Project ood, Land, & People, 2000; see The Edible Schoolyard arms, arm-to-school lunch programs, rec y- cling, and composting, students learn

about ho w food production and consumption pat- terns impact the natural en vironment. According to Earthw orks (2004), participating Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 855
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students de elop an “appreciation of the alue of all li ving creatures and become protectors of the orchard outh who once ripped plants out of the garden for fun no w weed, ater , and protect the garden and orchard crops. Characteristics of the School Setting Meaningful Dimensions of Sc hool En vir onment . Prior study of the social ecology of schools identif ies multiple domains important for the

functioning of schools and the academic and social de elopment of the students. In the psychosocial domain, impor- tant features of the school en vironment noted in prior research include the quality of student interpersonal relationships and of student-teacher relationships in academic and social domains, achie ement moti ation, the sense of school community , order and dis- cipline, opportunities for students meaningful participation, and parent in olv ement (Higgins-D’Alessandro & Sad, 1997; Solomon, Battistich, atson, Schaps, & Le wis, 2000; rick ett & Moos, 1995). Important aspects of the

school physical en vironment include the physical safety of students, cleanliness, and resources. Assessment of the school en vironment is generally conducted by aggre gating the perceptions of students and staf f as well as through observ ational methods. Anecdotal claims re garding the impact of school garden programs are most rele ant to the school physical en vironment, sense of school community , students opportunities for meaningful participation, students interpersonal relationships, and parental in olv ement. Physical En vir onment . The potential influence on the school physical en

vironment is most ob vious because the garden represents a ne w physical setting within the school. Schools dif fer widely in the ailability of spaces with getation where children can schools more than others depending on the pree xisting resources for outdoor play and the size and landscaping of the garden. Some small school gardens consist of only a fe raised beds or pots that may be adequate for learning and brightening the aesthetics b ut 856 Health Education & Behavior (December 2007)
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don t create a “green space. Other school gardens consist of acres of plantings and

structures that mak e a major aesthetic impro ement and create a setting for ne w kinds of social interactions. Re gardless of the size of the gro wing space, ho we er , students and others may feel “o wnership and pride of the garden; thus, there could be a deep- ening sense of community and pride. eer Relationships Garden learning is frequently conducted via group learning. Students often ork together to achie e tasks such as planting, weeding, or uilding. Garden projects also dra w on skills and interests not necessarily associated with high achie ement in the re gular classroom: for

xample, physical strength, visual-spatial skills, or xperience in uilding. Garden teachers anecdotally comment that some students who struggle with classroom learning “shine in the garden. Group ork in the garden may temporarily reshuf fle the patterns of classroom peer interactions based on classroom achie ement, such that students in dif ferent reading groups are no w orking together . Cooperati e group learning, in olving small teams of students of dif ferent ability le el as learning partners and pro viding recognition for group performance, has been associated with better peer

relationships as well as higher academic achie ement in the classroom (Marr , 1997; Mosk witz, Malvin, Schaef fer , & Schaps, 1983; Sla vin, 1995). If school gardens are able to impro e peer relationships, cooperati e learning acti vities could serv e as the mechanism. Documentation of school garden programs should include systematic observ ations of students interactions in the garden. If garden acti vities are successful in promoting higher le els of cooperation or inte gration of students than the re gular classroom, it ould be important to study whether these pos- iti e interactions are

sustained be yond the garden setting and ho w these interactions might be reinforced in other school settings. Capacity and Collective Ef icacy of Sc hool Community . The dimensions of commu- nity capacity and collecti e ef icac y are rele ant concepts for the study of the impact of school garden programs. Community capacity , as currently used in the public health and community de elopment ields, generally refers to the kno wledge and skills that the community can dra w on to address issues of concern to them (Goodman et al. 1998). Percei ed collecti e ef icac y refers to a group s shared

belief in its capabilities to act together to achie e desired outcomes or goals (Bandura, 1997). Lik e indi vidual ef i- cac , collecti e ef icac y is conceptualized not as a ix ed, global characteristic ut rather as a dynamic dimension specif ic to particular domains of functioning. A recent re vie on the health implications of community gardens emphasizes their capacity-b uilding ef fects, although systematic research to aluate the impact of community gardens on this and other social dimensions such as connectedness has been lacking (T wiss et al., 2003). Study of the ef fects of school

gardens on school capacity and collecti e ef icac ould benef it from rigorous assessment of the specif ic domains xpected to be influ- enced to address questions re garding what kinds of skills and kno wledge are enhanced and the areas in which collecti e ef icac y beliefs are strengthened. As discussed earlier , de eloping and sustaining school garden programs often rely on donations from parents and community members and in olv e staf f, students, amilies, and community members in planning, fundraising, and ork in the garden. The program thus pro vides opportunities for cooperation (and

conflict) and could strengthen social netw orks within the school. If stak eholders are able to ork ef fec- ti ely , the y may feel more conf ident in orking to ard other goals. An unsuccessful attempt at orking together , ho we er , could undermine the sense of collecti e ef icac Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 857
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ar ent In olv ement arents in olv ement in acti vities at their children s school site has been link ed to students higher academic achie ement and lo wer dropout (Eccles & Harold, 1996; Hill et al., 2004; Sno , Barnes, Chandler , Goodman, & Hemphill, 1991;

Steinber g, 1996). In the surv y of Los Angeles school gardens, most (63%) ut not all schools reported parent in olv ement in the garden. Because some garden programs often rely on parent and community olunteers during garden classes, for week end ork days, and for tend- ing the garden during school acations, there can be numerous opportunities for parent in olv ement at the school site. There is anecdotal vidence that school garden programs can increase the in olv ement of parents who—because of lo w le els of formal school- ing or limited English skills—are not comfortable olunteering in

classroom acti vities such as tutoring or orking with reading groups. As in the case of students, the garden setting pro vides roles for parental in olv ement that dra w on skills not necessarily tapped in classroom settings, such as physical strength, agricultural kno wledge, and visual-spatial problem-solving skills. There is al ays the possibility , ho we er , that the same group of parents who are already acti ely in olv ed in other school acti vities ould be those who olunteer to ork on the garden. Prior research indicates that parents with lo wer incomes and greater inancial pressures

are less lik ely to be in olv ed in the classroom, come to school open houses, and participate in the PT A (Gutman Eccles, 1999). o xpand parent participation, school garden programs will lik ely need to xplicitly engage parents in the program by hosting ents for amilies in the garden, ha ving students bring home garden produce for tasting or cooking, or pro viding students with at-home assignments that require amily participation. School-Community Relationships IMPLICA TIONS FOR PRA CTICE AND FUR THER RESEARCH This re vie w of rele ant theory and research on school gardens, as well as observ

a- tions from practitioners in the ield, suggest se eral y implications for practice. First, 858 Health Education & Behavior (December 2007)
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there are multiple pathw ays by which school garden programs may potentially Second, it is clear that school garden programs require long-term commitment and ef fort on the part of the principal and the school community to be adequately sustained. Programs with only one “champion or leader at the school site are vulnerable to ail- ure in the ent of staf f turno er , “b urnout, or other xtenuating circumstances. Practitioners ha e

frequently cited parent in olv ement during the school year and aca- tion breaks as essential to sustainability . The apparent need for widespread support emphasizes the importance of learning more about ho w ef fecti e “b uy-in can be achie ed, particularly for schools with lo w resources and man y competing demands. Thus, an important question for future research is: Ho w do the approaches used to elicit uy-in and support from teachers, administrators, parents, and students relate to the ef fecti eness and long-term sustainability of the program? Losing xternal funding as one reason cited

for the closure of se eral garden programs in the Los Angeles school district study (Azuma et al., 2001). If more funding is made ailable for school garden projects through federal or other funds, it ould be important to consider ho w xternal funding could be used to strengthen rather than undermine initiati e and commitment to the garden project on the part of the school community Third, competencies, health outcomes, and resources that school gardens can poten- tially af fect are not randomly distrib uted in U.S. communities. Instead, lo w-income and ethnic minority children are more lik ely

to be obese and ha e lo wer academic achie e- ment, with lo w-SES (socioeconomic-status) schools in economically depri ed areas less lik ely to ha e parental in olv ement (Gutman & Eccles, 1999; Hedle y et al., 2004; Rury & Mirel, 1997; einstein, 2002) and inancial resources from parents on which Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 859
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to dra . Thus, school garden programs that are ef fecti e in achie ving health and health and educational disparities. The catch is that a suf icient le el of resources is nec- essary to de elop and sustain these lar gely “grassroots garden

programs. Schools with lo w le els of parent participation will lik ely ace challenges in sustaining a program gi en the important role of parents in man y school gardens; if there is suf icient parent in olv ement to de elop the program, ho we er , it may serv e to xpand the xisting base. If parents or care gi ers ork full-time, it is clearly important for the program to pro- vide ays for amily to participate at home or during nonw ork hours. Lo w-SES schools often characterized by lo wer aggre gate academic achie ement on standardized tests will lik ely need to xperience major academic or

social benef its of the garden program to justify the time and resources gi en recent U.S. federal le gislation and sanctions re gard- ing student achie ement testing. or these schools, the potential benef its of the school garden in eliciting parental in olv ement and increasing achie ement will be crucial. ourth, as clear from the abo e discussion, school garden models can dif fer greatly It is essential that aluation and research in this area document the specif ic compo- nents of garden programs and the ays in which these program elements are imple- mented and inte grated into the school.

If school garden programs are found to be ef fecti e in promoting an y of the outcomes described abo e, systematic documentation of what these programs actually consisted of will be necessary to inform further de el- opment and dif fusion. Abo e and be yond the content of program curricula and the details of the physical space, it is critical to understand the social acti vities and condi- tions created by the school garden program and the collaborati e acti vities, conditions, and funding necessary to sustain it. These kinds of data enable dif fusion ef forts to focus on “best processes

(Green, 2001). Prior research on school-based programs suggests that the strength of programs can dif fer meaningfully within the same school (Ozer einstein, Maslach, & Sie gel, 1997); thus, it is crucial that aluation and research on school garden programs observe what happens in school garden classes rather than assuming that implementation will be uniform. Ev aluation designs that rely on a combination of systematic qualitati e and quanti- school garden programs and then link these processes and conditions to program out- comes. Multiple approaches to gathering data—surv ys, intervie ws,

and observ ations should be used to strengthen the con er gent alidity of vidence for ef fects on the student and school le el. Self-reported changes in students beha vior , for xample, could be supplemented by the report of parents or teachers and by observ ations as fea- sible and appropriate. Changes in the school en vironment should be assessed both by surv y and intervie w data pro vided by students and staf f and by systematic observ ations of the school setting. School records, such as une xcused absences, grades, and referrals, could also pro vide useful data. Summary of Resear ch

Needed to Guide Effecti e Practice There are no w major gaps between research and practice with respect to school gardens. There is great enthusiasm and commitment “in the ield, and much anecdotal has not pro vided similar support. Further research is needed to pro vide stronger tests of school gardens within the domains of indi vidual and school functioning discussed here and to identify best practices and processes associated with meaningful ef fects and 860 Health Education & Behavior (December 2007)
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Ozer / Ef fects of School Gardens 861 long-term sustainability . Although

school gardens may be part of a systemic response to the U.S. obesity crisis, it is important that inquiry on school gardens xtend be yond nutrition to the potential ef fects on the psychosocial and academic de elopment of youth and on the school as a setting for de elopment. o s g m o t i m p s a t Refer ences American Academy of Pediatrics. (2003). Polic y statement: Pre ention of pediatric erweight and obesity . ediatrics 112 (2), 424-430. Azuma, A., Horan, ., & Gottlieb, R. (2001). A place to gr ow and a place to learn: Sc hool . Los Angeles: Center for ood & Justice, Urban & En

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