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Karen Wistoft

Wellbeing in school gardens: the case of the Gardens for Bellies food and environmental education program

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  • Karen Wistoft
  • Pernille Malberg Dyg, Professionshøjskolen Metropol

The article explores the role of the outdoor environment in the Gardens for Bellies Danish school garden program in relation to student wellbeing. It is based on exploratory multiple case study research. The study indicates that the school garden program promotes students’ wellbeing through their positive emotions about being outside in the outdoor environment. Garden activities and their relations with peers, garden educators, and teachers seemed to positively affect students’ self-esteem. Over and above the positive social environment, students’ relations with the natural environment seem also to affect their wellbeing as they develop empathy for animals, insects, and plants. Whether this influences their wellbeing, interpersonal relations, and planetary care in the long run after the program is not, however, documented. Not all students thrive in the open, free, and sometimes chaotic space of the garden. However, the majority of students in the program seem to experience a sense of wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Volume24
Issue8
Pages (from-to)1177-1191
Number of pages15
ISSN1350-4622
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Karen Wistoft is professor with special responsibilities in learning, cooking, tasting and well-being in primary and secondary school. Here main task and current research purpose is to build up a new and highly innovative pedagogical and educational research environment dealing with students’ tasting, food knowledge and skills, well-being, and learning in school. Initially, she has proved it possible to establish this research in both indoor and outdoor education. She has conducted research in school gardens and outdoor teaching since 2009 and has written several articles and research report in relation to the empirical and educational findings.

Pernille Malberg Dyg is a postdoc and associate lecturer at the Metropolitan University College, where she conducts research on school gardens, community gardens and outdoor pedagogy and food education. She holds a Ph.D. in food studies focusing on food education and farm-to-school programs.

The research behind this article was part of a collaboration between Aarhus University Department of Education and Metropolitan University College. This work was supported by the Nordea Foundation through Haver til Maver (Gardens for Bellies).

    Research areas

  • School gardens, Students, Social Relations, Well-being, Mental health, Learning, Case study, Environmental education, Wellbeing, school gardens, Children, PEDAGOGIES, KNOWLEDGE, FRUIT, COOKING, HEALTH, CONSUMPTION

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