Beliefs, knowledge, and values held by inner-city youth about gardening, nutrition, and cooking

Lauren Lautenschlager, Chery Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Changes in the US food system and an interest in changing dietary habits among youth have impelled numerous schools and communities to develop programs such as community gardens. Youth community gardens have the potential to positively influence dietary behaviors and enhance environmental awareness and appreciation. However, actual data supporting youth gardening and its influence are limited. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of community gardens on youth dietary behaviors, values and beliefs, and cooking and gardening behaviors. Focus groups were conducted with inner-city youth living in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and compared those involved in a youth garden program with those uninvolved in order to investigate whether the gardening program influenced their habits, beliefs, and values. Findings indicate that youth garden program participants were more willing to eat nutritious food and try ethnic and unfamiliar food than those not in the program. Additionally, it was apparent that garden participants had a stronger appreciation for other individuals and cultures and were more likely to cook and garden on their own than youth not involved in a garden program. The findings suggest that garden programs positively impact youth garden habits, food choice, social skills, nutrition knowledge, and cooking skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-258
Number of pages14
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Community gardens
  • Dietary habits
  • Environmental awareness
  • Inner-city youth
  • Minnesota


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