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ERIC Number: ED536712
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 457
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2671-0845-6
A Healthy Harvest: Adolescents Grow Food and Well-Being with Policy Implications for Education, Health and Community Planning
Pevec, Illene Susan
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado at Denver
The severe youth health crisis involving overweight and obesity requires a complex policy response involving multiple domains: education, agriculture, health services, and community planning. This research examines gardening's affective benefits for adolescents and the potential school and youth gardens have to support healthy communities. Gardening provides access to growing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables as well as proximity to nature, opportunity for exercise, and time for self-reflection. Ecological psychology and positive psychology provide theoretical contexts to understand gardening's value for youth. This four-year qualitative investigation in Colorado involved adolescents aged fourteen to nineteen who garden in four youth gardening programs dedicated to growing food organically. Three programs are at rural high schools, two public and one private. A year-round urban after-school gardening program provides a summer farming program that grows food for the local farmers' market and homeless shelter. Youth at all sites receive organic gardening instruction. Some study nutrition and/or food systems. Semi-structured interviews explored the sensory experiences each youth had while gardening and their emotional responses. Each youth photographed a favorite place in the garden. Participant observation while gardening stimulated relaxed conversations and the opportunity to learn about each program's focus, dynamic and goals. Focus groups at two public high school agricultural biology classes provided the opportunity to explore gardening's value academically. Results indicate overwhelmingly positive benefits for adolescents' emotional wellbeing. These young gardeners report feeling calm, happy, relaxed and competent while gardening. They claim to eat more vegetables and gain greater environmental awareness through the process. Almost all notice a greater capacity to concentrate after gardening. They feel they are making a positive contribution to the Earth. Policy makers establishing school ground use and setting curricular goals need to consider the benefits school gardens can afford when integrated into curriculum. We need further research to understand the quantity of gardening necessary to create these benefits, and how school gardens impact the general school climate even for those not gardening. Additionally, physiological research could identify specific health benefits of gardening. Community planning research could explore school grounds' use for urban agriculture. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Colorado