Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition Science and Dietetics


Brann, Lynn


Early childhood education, Childhood obesity

Subject Categories

Medicine and Health Sciences


The issue of childhood obesity has been gaining an increasing amount of attention in recent decades due to sharp rises in prevalence. Efforts to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption among children through the use of gardening activities have become an increasingly popular strategy. Limited data currently exists, however, on using gardening programs with preschool age children in childcare settings. Using these types of programs may be effective in increasing exposure and access to fruits and vegetables for young children and therefore may be a useful strategy in preventing childhood obesity. This study sought to determine the motivations of childcare providers to implement instructional gardens. Qualitative interviews (n=20) were completed in order to gain information on perceived benefits and barriers to implementing gardening programs including the current challenges childcare providers faced as well as what resources they felt would be helpful in order to have a successful gardening program. Providers in family day care, group family day care, day care centers, and Head Start programs were interviewed. Benefits to using gardening in these settings with preschool age children included nutrition related benefits such as an increased willingness to try more fruits and vegetables and increased knowledge regarding food and where it comes from. Non-nutrition related benefits were also discussed including using gardens as a multi-disciplinary tool for teaching, encouraging a connection to the natural environment and fostering a sense of accomplishment and responsibility among the children. Main barriers to implementation or continuation of gardening programs were a lack of resources including financial resources for supplies, adequate knowledge and training, community and volunteer support, and adequate curriculum resources. Further research should address ways in which to overcome the barriers experienced by motivated childcare providers to continue using gardening programs