Sowing Seeds to Grow Healthy Communities

Educating children and families about nutrition and healthy food choices

Full Project Name:Sowing Seeds to Grow Healthy Communities: A school garden pilot projectPrimary Community Organization:Pepin County Health DepartmentPrimary Academic Partner:George R. Jacobson, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:$39,957
Award Date
July2009
Project Duration:12 months

Project Description Narrative:


Childhood obesity is recognized as a national epidemic, with the prevalence of overweight children more than doubling in the past 20 years. A study by the National Health and Nutrition Survey found that children ages 3 through 10 who had matneral stressors such as poverty and food insecurity were more apt to be obese than other children. In Wisconsin, data supports this.

Wisconsin's Buffalo and Pepin Counties represent rural areas with pockets of high childhood poverty and little access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. In Pepin County, 13.7% of children live in poverty, while 8.2% of children in Buffalo County live at or below the poverty threshold. In Buffalo County, data indicates that 21% of area children are obese and 37% are overweight. Because of obesity there is an increase in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes in children.

Concerned about the high incidence of obesity and chronic disease, project partners have set a goal to educate children and families about nutrition and healthy food choices by implementing a school garden nutrition program to impact children's health in a positive manner and lower their risk for chronic disease.

Community partners:
Buffalo County Department of Health and Human Services, St. John Lutheran Church, Pepin Area School District, Cochrane-Fountain City School District, University of Wisconsin Extension

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Partnered with school staff and community partners to form two school gardn planning committees

• Conducted a survey of teachers, students, and families, affirming the feasibility of developing two school garden projects and providing a baseline for further research on the effectiveness this pilot project may have on reducing common risk factors associated with obesity and chronic disease

• Established formal partnerships with two school districts to develop grant applications to support implementation of the project

• Leveraged $6,000 through in-kind time from project partners

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