Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Sally Vliem

Second Advisor

Wendy Kershner

Third Advisor

Susan Houtrouw


Background: Current evidence in the literature supports the use of a gardening and nutritional intervention with children to increase fruit and vegetable intake and positively impact weight status. No study thus far has evaluated children's ability to garden independently after the intervention.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to design and implement an intervention that will be effective in increasing fruit and vegetable intake as well as encouraging independence in gardening and maintenance of these changes.

Methods: The population of interest was fourth graders at a local urban elementary school that are involved in a structured After-School Program. A similar number of third graders in the After-School Program served as the control group. Both the intervention and control group completed the Block Fruit, Vegetable, and Fiber Screener prior to the intervention, after the intervention, and after the summer. Weight, height, and body mass index (BMI) were recorded at all three of these data collection points. The intervention group participants received both gardening and nutritional education during structured learning time in the After-School Program. The control group did not receive any education and participated in other structured activities with the rest of the students in the After-School Program. The intervention group independently cared for a plant over the summer to extend the gardening intervention and assess the feasibility of teaching nutrition through gardening with this age group.

Results: There was a significant negative correlation between BMI and vegetable intake at time two after the intervention when both the intervention and control groups were combined. This indicates that as vegetable intake increased, BMI decreased. The relationship between BMI and fruit intake was not significant. Conclusions: Gardening may be an effective method of promoting behavior change in elementary school students, but further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of such intervention long-term.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only

KHeib_PlantaSeed_Powerpoint.pdf (20355 kB)
Powerpoint Presentation