Remote school gardens: exploring a cost-effective and novel way to engage Australian Indigenous students in nutrition and health

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Abstract

Objective:

This pilot study aimed to determine the feasibility of a novel, low-cost program to get remote schools started in gardening and nutrition activities, for a lower cost than existing models, and without on-the-ground horticultural support.

Methods:

A multi-site, mixed methods case study was undertaken, in which four remote schools were shipped gardening materials and a nutrition and cooking resource, and provided with horticultural support by phone and email. A support register and teacher surveys were used for four months of evaluation.

Results:

The study demonstrated that the program is feasible, and may be associated with an increase from baseline in student's time spent cooking, gardening and on related classroom activities.

Conclusions:

The program was delivered economically without the need for on-the-ground staff, in a manner that was acceptable to teachers.

Implications:

This model may have application in remote schools throughout Australia, where there is a need to alter health impacting behaviours in high-risk populations. Lengthier program evaluation times and further resource development may be worth investigating in the future.

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