Objective: To determine the status of gardens in California schools.
Design: A self-administered Internet and mailed survey was sent to all California principals (N = 9805).
Participants: 4194 California school principals.
Variables measured: School garden practices, attitudes associated with the use of gardens in schools, and perceptions of barriers to having and using school gardens in academic instruction.
Analysis: Descriptive statistics and chi-square; P < .05.
Results: A 43% response rate was achieved. The most frequent reason for having a garden was for enhancement of academic instruction. Gardens were most commonly used for teaching science, environmental studies, and nutrition. Principals strongly agreed that resources such as curriculum materials linked to academic instruction and lessons on teaching nutrition in the garden would assist in the school garden being used for academic instruction. Principals deemed the garden as being not to slightly effective at enhancing the school meal program.
Conclusions and implications: School gardens appear to be predominantly used by most schools to enhance academic instruction. There is a need for curriculum materials and teacher training for gardening and nutrition. The link between the garden and the school meal program is an area that clearly requires attention. School lunch would be a logical setting for provision of edible produce, in addition to taste-testing of fresh produce in the garden or classroom setting.