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The People's GardenPeople's Garden School Pilot Program Award Announced

In response to this solicitation, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced, on April 7, 2011, the selection of Washington State University (WSU) to implement the People’s Garden School Pilot Program. WSU will develop school gardens in 70 high-poverty schools located in various urban, suburban, and rural areas in New York, Iowa, Arkansas, and New York involving an estimated 2,800 students. (See chart below). In partnership with Cooperative Extension staff, 4-H Clubs, and Master Gardener programs in each state, WSU will work with schools to provide youth-led garden projects during the school year as well as throughout the summer, and will work with school meals service providers to incorporate fresh garden produce into the school snack and meals programs.

To learn more about the impacts of school gardens on influencing healthier diet choices, the WSU project developed a research design that includes both process evaluation and outcome tests. The experimental design places half of the schools in a control group for the first year of demonstrations which allow for a double-difference analysis. Among the research questions to be explored are:

  1. Did students select or consume more fruits and vegetables at school as a result of their involvement in the garden project?
  2. Did students consume more fruits and vegetables at home as a result of their involvement in the garden?
  3. Did students’ preference for fruits and vegetables increase as a result of their involvement in the garden project?
  4. Were there any improved education outcomes associated with the inclusion of the gardening and nutrition in the curriculum?

Gardens developed during the grant period will be sustained through the professional development of the state and local LGU-CE staff and the involvement of youth-led teams (e.g., local 4-H or Boys & Girls Club programs) that have the internal structure and organizational support to maintain the garden and the gardening programs beyond the life of the grant period. Teams developed during the project will oversee the gardens during the summer when school staff is not available. In addition, families will be encouraged to support the care of the school garden and start their own gardens. Toolkits developed by the project will provide instructions on every facet of establishing and maintaining school gardens. Washington State will provide a non-Federal cost share of over $200,000 to combine with $1,000,000 in Federal funding to develop and manage this pilot program.