Opportunities for School Garden-Based Health Education in a Lower-Income, Diverse, Urban School District

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Background: Researchers have documented inequities in garden-based learning opportunities for students in lower-income, racially and ethnically diverse school districts. Purpose: This study examined principals and teachers’ perceptions of garden-based learning in a lower-income, ethnically diverse, urban community. Methods: For this qualitative study, we used a semi-structured interview guide. Interviews were conducted with elementary principals (n = 12) and teachers (n = 9) in a lower-income, diverse urban school district. Using Atlast.ti qualitative software, data were coded and reviewed to identify code categories, which could be taken to represent themes. Results: Principals and teachers identified challenges to school garden programming including limited resources and a focus on standardized testing. Perceived facilitators included: school garden lessons which align with their school district’s curriculum, garden supply donations, and community member involvement. Participants discussed how many of their students live in poverty, are immigrants, and speak multiple languages. These student characteristics presented both challenges (eg, transient study body) and opportunities (eg, immigrant families with rich gardening heritage) for their school garden programs. Discussion: The findings identify opportunities for developing and enhancing school garden programs in lower-income, diverse, urban communities. Translation to Health Education Practice: Health educators can use the findings to advocate for, and implement, school garden programming.


Published online June 3, 2019.

Ann-Uriel Knausenberger is a student in the Sacred Heart University Master of Public Health program.




American Journal of Health Education


Taylor & Francis