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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 688; doi:10.3390/ijerph14070688

Sowing Seeds for Healthier Diets: Children’s Perspectives on School Gardening

1
Department of Palliative Care, University Medical Center Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
2
Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, VU University, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3
Department of Health Sciences, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 8 May 2017 / Revised: 20 June 2017 / Accepted: 22 June 2017 / Published: 25 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Global Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [274 KB, uploaded 25 June 2017]

Abstract

School gardening programmes are among the most promising interventions to improve children’s vegetable intake. Yet, low vegetable intake among children remains a persistent public health challenge. This study aimed to explore children’s perspectives, experiences, and motivations concerning school gardening in order to better understand and increase its potential for health promotion. Using participant observation and semi-structured interviews, we provided 45 primary schoolchildren (9–10 years) from Amsterdam, who participated in a comprehensive year-round school gardening programme, the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas on school gardening. Children particularly expressed enjoyment of the outdoor gardening portion of the programme as it enabled them to be physically active and independently nurture their gardens. Harvesting was the children’s favourite activity, followed by planting and sowing. In contrast, insufficient gardening time and long explanations or instructions were especially disliked. Experiencing fun and enjoyment appeared to play a vital role in children’s motivation to actively participate. Children’s suggestions for programme improvements included more autonomy and opportunities for experimentation, and competition elements to increase fun and variety. Our results indicate that gaining insight into children’s perspectives allows matching school gardening programmes more to children’s wishes and expectations, thereby potentially enhancing their intrinsic motivation for gardening and vegetable consumption. View Full-Text
Keywords: school gardening; health promotion; the child’s perspective; participant observation; vegetables school gardening; health promotion; the child’s perspective; participant observation; vegetables
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nury, E.; Sarti, A.; Dijkstra, C.; Seidell, J.C.; Dedding, C. Sowing Seeds for Healthier Diets: Children’s Perspectives on School Gardening. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 688.

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