Gardening as Antidote to Childhood Obesity


by Susan
Here’s a bit of good news.  A professor at Kansas State has a nice fat grant to study the impact ofCarrots gardening on childhood obesity.  She believes that when children help to grow their own fruits and vegetables they’re "more interested in eating them," so the project includes after-school programs in which 4th and 5th-graders grow their own fruits, vegetables and flowers.   Another benefit, of course, is that gardening itself gets kids outdoors and, according to the article, it "counts as physical activity."  (I suppose that means it IS physical activity, or is there some kind of counting system going on that I don’t know about?)  Others involved in the program are parents, Master Gardeners and other local volunteers.

Great, but I have a question.  The UPI story tells us that not only will school gardens be created but also "high tunnels for gardening during
the winter months".  Can anybody explain the high tunnel concept?

In other childhood-obesity news from UPI, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has established a $500 million program to combat it.  The foundation’s plan includes giving poor kids access to healthy food and safe play spaces. They’re also funding research into obesity and encouraging
governments to take on the issue.  Let’s hope the foundation sees the connection to gardening and works to create a Gen G – for gardener.   


  1. Susan, high tunnels are plastic-covered structures made out of pipe that allow the grower to harvest vegetables year round. I want one very badly, but hell if I have the skills to assemble one myself.

    And on the connection between gardening and fit kids, my only comment is, duh! Somebody else is going to do a study that links gardening to mental health in kids, too, and again, I’ll say duh.

    I give my kids a piece of my vegetable garden every year. The results are not uniformly pretty–this year I’m wincing through orange marigolds next to pink zinnias. But they really enjoying eating their OWN radishes and cabbages. Plus,they plant stuff I might not–like pumpkins the size of a condo.

  2. Lots of interest and research going into high tunnels at Cornell. The focus has been on using them with high-value, warm-season vegetables and cutflowers to tap early markets and push havest later in the season as well.

  3. Citizens for Conservation, a local group in my area, has started a new program called “No Child Left Inside,” to encourage children to be out & learning about natural habitats & native plants & animals. They’re offering several different activities nearly every week of Fall for kids from preschoolers to high school age. I’m so lucky to have such a great group around here, I only wish everyone had a similar organization.

  4. The photo above is not mine (casual clicks. I’d appreciate your site removing the credit to me. Thank you.
    Jeff Lowe

  5. The photo above is not mine (casual clicks. I’d appreciate your site removing the credit to me. Thank you.
    Jeff Lowe

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