Sustainability via Active Garden Education: Translating Policy to Practice in Early Care and Education

J Sch Health. 2019 Apr;89(4):257-266. doi: 10.1111/josh.12734. Epub 2019 Feb 5.


Background: We describe the development of sustainability via active garden education (SAGE), an early care and education (ECE) garden-based curriculum developed from a 5-year community partnership to link national health policy guidelines with ECE accreditation standards.

Methods: National health guidelines and ECE accreditation standards were reviewed, and community advisory board members, ECE staff, and parents provided feedback and support throughout the development of the curriculum. The SAGE curriculum components were guided by the Ecologic Model of Physical Activity and Social Cognitive Theory. Strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threat analyses were used to refine and revise the curriculum to overcome challenges to implementation.

Results: Twelve 1-hour, developmentally appropriate, modularized lessons were created using the garden as a metaphor for human development. Lessons featured songs, simple games, pretend play, modeling, and garden activities. Parents were engaged via weekly newsletters with information about activities in the classroom, strategies to improve health habits at home, and free community resources.

Conclusion: SAGE partnered scientific theory and rigor with community ingenuity and innovation to create a clear translation of policy guidelines to easily implementable practice in a fun and engaging manner.

Keywords: CBPR; child; interventions; nutrition; physical activity; preschool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Curriculum*
  • Gardening / education*
  • Gardens
  • Health Policy
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools