Background. Early childhood is a critical life period for promoting health behaviors, and early child care and education centers (ECECs) are critical settings, as 60% of U.S. children attend ECECs. Yet few programs or curricula that promote physical activity and nutrition in this setting exist. This study explored the acceptability, feasibility, and sustainability of the Sustainability via Active Garden Education (SAGE) program. Method. Preintervention interviews were conducted to inform the design of SAGE and postintervention interviews were conducted to evaluate the implementation of SAGE in the ECEC setting. A constant comparison approach was used to capture emergent themes on acceptability, feasibility, and sustainability from interviews. Participants. ECEC directors (N = 10, 90% female, 20% Hispanic, 30% African American). Results. Directors expressed that SAGE was acceptable and feasible as it was age-appropriate, engaging, and aligned with existing curricula and accreditation standards. Most directors reported that SAGE improved activity and nutrition related knowledge while building other social and academic skills (e.g., expanding vocabulary) that are critical to this important developmental period. Suggestions for improving the sustainability of the program included stronger parental involvement and opportunities for ECEC staff trainings.
Keywords: child; gardening; preschool; program evaluation; qualitative research.