A pilot study for plant the seed: A nutrition education program using local food environment to put theory into action

Karen A. Lee, Yeon Bai, Shahla M. Wunderlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to implement Plant the Seed, a garden-based nutrition education program designed to reconnect children with locally grown food, food environments of the past and present, and the benefits of eating seasonal foods. The pilot study investigates environmental context and theory variables known to influence healthy food choice behavior. Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) provided a framework for the program's curriculum and evaluation. The target audience is middle school students. Plant the Seed is a two-part program. In Part 1 (classroom), students participate in practical, interactive activities based on specific educational objectives that target theory mediators. In Part 2 (field trip), students rotate through the community farm, kitchen herb garden and historic kitchen to engage in hands-on program activities. Pretest/posttest evaluation compared control and intervention students from two schools measured program effectiveness. Intervention school students (n = 16) improved behavioral intention (3.40 vs 3.53, P = 0.34), historical social norm (3.40 vs 3.79, P = 0.03), and outcome expectations (3.91 vs 4.19, P = 0.03). No change in variables among control students (n = 10). Plant the Seed had a positive impact on factors associated with healthy eating behavior. This program demonstrates how to effectively engage community resources, to promote the development and implementation of gardening environments that create hands-on opportunities for children to become directly connected to local food production, to learn about the environmental benefits of eating locally grown foods and to allow children to have access to a positive, sustainable food environment. Plant the Seed can serve as a model for future theory and garden-based nutrition intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1028-1036
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2016


  • Environmental impact
  • Food choice behaviour
  • Garden-based nutrition education
  • Locally grown food
  • Middle school students Plant the Seed


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