The effects of school gardening on children’s fruit and vegetable consumption and their personal and social well-being, and the requirements for structural implementation.


Healthy eating habits can reduce the risk of obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular diseases [1]. At the same time, a more sustainable diet has a positive impact on planetary health due to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, freshwater use, or land use [1]. Research has shown that food preferences and eating habits that are learned at a young age track into later age [2, 3], making children an important target group for encouraging healthy and sustainable eating patterns. School gardens might be a relevant and meaningful way to affect children’s eating behaviours and thereby contributing to individual health as well as public and planetary health. 


The first school gardens in the Netherlands were developed over a hundred years ago [4]. Already in 1905, Lee Cleveland Corbet wrote about the many benefits of school gardening such as learning about nature, individual responsibility, and developing skills and dexterity by handling various tools [5]. Nowadays, school gardens are more and more used for nutrition education to learn children about food and food sources so they can develop healthy food preferences and sustainable dietary patterns [6-8].  


Various studies have already investigated the effect of school garden programs on children’s fruit and vegetable intake and nutritional knowledge, pointing to the potential of school gardening on a broad range of outcomes. However, the studies vary considerably in their design and measurement methods. Besides, the gardening programs studied vary in their set-up, implementation, and context. Finally, the underlying mechanisms of change have not yet been studied extensively, but are crucial to unravel in order to develop (more) effective school garden interventions and to outline conditions for structural implementation.

Project description

Within the I’VE GROWN project, we will study the effects of school gardening on children’s fruit and vegetable consumption (such as eating behaviour, liking and willingness to taste) and their personal and social well-being. Moreover, we will investigate the conditions for structural embedding of garden-based interventions in the school context. 


 1.Swinburn, B.A., et al., The global syndemic of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change: the Lancet Commission report. The lancet, 2019. 393(10173): p. 791-846. 

2.Nicklaus, S. and E. Remy, Early Origins of Overeating: Tracking Between Early Food Habits and Later Eating Patterns. Current Obesity Reports, 2013. 2(2): p. 179-184. 

3.Remy, E., et al., Repeated exposure of infants at complementary feeding to a vegetable puree increases acceptance as effectively as flavor-flavor learning and more effectively than flavor-nutrient learning. J Nutr, 2013. 143(7): p. 1194-200. 

4.Van Lier, M., Leufgen, W., Jong Leren Moestuinieren. Kindermoestuinen in Nederland - verleden, heden, toekomst. 2018. 

5.Corbett, L.C., The school garden. 1905: US Government Printing Office. 

6.DUO Onderwijsonderzoek & Advies, Rapportage Schooltuinen. 2021: Utrecht. 

7.Schreinemachers, P., et al., Nudging children toward healthier food choices: An experiment combining school and home gardens. Global Food Security, 2020. 26: p. 100454. 

8.Rutenfrans, A.H.M.V.D.K.L., Inventarisatie ondersteunings-structuur van schooltuinen in Nederland. 2021, Adviesbureau Beleef & Weet, Allura Vision Growers.